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International Current Affairs 2019

Current Affairs[June 2019]
  • UNSC: It stands for The United Nations Security Council is one of the organs of the United Nations which is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of international sanctions, and the authorization of military action through Security Council resolutions; it is the only UN body with the authority to issue binding resolutions to member states. The Security Council consists of fifteen members. Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, and the United States—serve as the body’s five permanent members. These permanent members can veto any substantive Security Council resolution, including those on the admission of new member states or candidates for Secretary-General.
  • Ravi: The name of the river in Pakistan on whose banks Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur is located which is in the news recently for construction of special corridor. Officials from Pakistan and India recently held a meeting to discuss the modalities for a corridor linking Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur across the border. The Kartarpur corridor will be implemented as an integrated development project with Government of India funding, to provide smooth and easy passage, with all the modern amenities.
  • Kappaphycus alvarezii: It is an invasive, which smothers and kills coral reefs. It has spread its wings to coral reef areas in Valai island in the Gulf of Mannar (GoM) and set to invade new coral colonies in the marine national park. It has already invaded Shingle, Kurusadai and Mulli islands in Mandapam cluster of the GoM, the red algae invaded Valai island along Kilakarai coast following its cultivation in south Palk Bay.
  • Sri Lanka, Japan and India: These countries have signed an agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal at the Colombo Port. The joint initiative is estimated to cost between $500 million and $700 million. As per the agreement signed, the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) retains 100% ownership of the East Container Terminal (ECT), while the Terminal Operations Company is jointly owned. Sri Lanka will hold a 51% stake in the project and the joint venture partners will retain 49%. The ECT is located some three km away from the China-backed international financial city, known popularly as “port city”.
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO): It recently released its second global report, titled Women in Business and Management: The business case for change. As per the report a critical mass of 30 per cent women is need by the enterprises in order to reap the benefits of gender diversity. Almost half of the surveyed enterprises reported women holding less than 30 per cent of entry-level management positions. Across the world, men are still more likely to participate in the labour market than women. The average global labour force participation rate of women in 2018 stood at 48.5 per cent, while that of men was 75 per cent. This equates to a 26.5 percentage point gender gap in labour force participation.
  • Burn-Out: It is the disease which the World Health Organization has for the first time recognised in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which is widely used as a benchmark for diagnosis and health insurers. The decision could help put to rest Sdecades of debate among experts over how to define burnout, and whether it should be considered a medical condition. In the latest update of its catalogue of diseases and injuries around the world, WHO defines burn-out as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” The syndrome is characterised by three dimensions: “1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; 2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and 3) reduced professional efficacy.”
  • Scott Morrison: He was recently sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Australia. Mr. Morrison became Australia’s 30th Prime Minister through an internal party vote in which he replaced Malcom Turnbull as chief of the ruling Liberal Party.
  • World Health Organization: They unveiled a new strategy to dramatically cut deaths and injuries from snakebites, warning a dearth of antivenoms could soon spark a “public health emergency”. Each year, nearly three million people are bitten by poisonous snakes, with an estimated 81,000-138,000 deaths. Another 400,000 survivors suffer permanent disabilities and other after-effects, according to WHO figures. Most snakebite victims live in the world’s tropical and poorest regions, and children are worse affected due to their smaller body size. WHO has already categorised “snakebite envenoming” as a Neglected Tropical Disease.
  • Mandapam, Keezhakkarai and Palk Bay in Gulf of Mannar regions: They are the places where the researchers have found an alarming pattern of bleaching in the reefs. Sea surface temperature ranged from 28.7°C to 31°C in the August 2018-February 2019 period and there was no bleaching seen then. However, when the temperatures rose to between 32°C and 36°C between March 2019 and May 2019, researchers observed a pattern of bleaching in corals, which was different at different layers within the sea. Coral reefs are important hotspots of biodiversity in the ocean. Corals are animals in the same class (Cnidaria) as jellyfish and anemones. They consist of individual polyps that get together and build reefs.
  • Artemis: It is the name of programme unveiled by NASA that will return astronauts to the Moon for the first time in half a century, including eight scheduled launches and a mini-station in lunar orbit by 2024. Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed mission around the Moon planned for 2020. Next will come Artemis 2, which will orbit Earth’s satellite with a crew around 2022; followed finally by Artemis 3 that will put astronauts on lunar soil in 2024, including the first woman. The three will be launched into space by the biggest rocket of all time, the Boeing-led Space Launch System (SLS), which is currently under development but has seen numerous delays and has been criticized in some quarters as a bloated jobs program. ARTEMIS stands for Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of Moon’s Interaction with the Sun. The mission was named Artemis after the Greek mythological goddess of the Moon and twin sister to Apollo, namesake of the program that sent 12 American astronauts to the Moon between 1969 and 1972.
  • Mount Agung: It is the volcano located on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali which erupted recently. Mount Agung or Gunung Agung is a currently active volcano in Bali, Indonesia, southeast of Mt Batur volcano, also in Bali. Gunung Agung stratovolcano is the highest point on Bali. It dominates the surrounding area, influencing the climate, especially rainfall patterns.
  • Bishkek: In Kyrgyzstan is the place which recently hosted the Second Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Mass Media Forum. The Forum aims to strengthen the exchange and cooperation in the field of mass media amongst SCO countries. It offers a unique platform for active work through mass media to create an objective vision of the organization and strengthen its positive image in the global information space. The first SCO Media Summit was held in Beijing on 1 June 2018. The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, also known as the Shanghai Pact, is a Eurasian political, economic, and military organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai. The founding members were China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The cooperation was renamed to Shanghai Cooperation Organisation after Uzbekistan joined the organisation in 2001.
  • SKA: Which stands for Square Kilometre Array is the name of the world’s largest radio telescope which the scientists at Cambridge recently finished brain designing. It consists of a supercomputer that will process the enormous amounts of data produced by the SKA’s telescopes. The total compute power will be around 250 PFlops — that’s 25 per cent faster than IBM’s Summit, the current fastest supercomputer in the world. When complete, the SKA will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system currently in existence. The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with eventually over a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. Whilst 10 member countries are the cornerstone of the SKA, around 100 organisations across about 20 countries are participating in the design and development of the SKA. Location of SKA antenna dishes will be built in South Africa (in the Karoo), with outstations in other parts of South Africa, as well as in eight African partner countries, namely Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia. Another part of the telescope, the low-frequency array, will be built in Western Australia.
  • Athena and LISA: These are the two future missions of ESA which the researchers have proposed to combine the observing power to study the effects when two supermassive black holes collide. Currently in the study phase, both missions are scheduled for launch in the early 2030s. Athena will be the largest X-ray observatory ever built, investigating some of the hottest and most energetic phenomena in the cosmos with unprecedented accuracy and depth. LISA will be the first space-borne observatory of gravitational waves—fluctuations in the fabric of spacetime produced by the acceleration of cosmic objects with very strong gravity fields, like pairs of merging black holes.
  • Chagos islands: It is the main reason for the dispute between Britain and Mauritius. The United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) has passed a non-binding resolution asking United Kingdom (UK) to return Chagos Archipelago in Indian Ocean to Mauritius. The UK should end its control of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean as rapidly as possible. The islands are not lawfully separated from the former colony of Mauritius.
  • China: This country has been illegally emitting Trichlorofluoromethane or CFC-11 — the banned ozone-depleting chemical — according to the research published in the journal Nature recently. CFC-11 was phased out under the 1987 Montreal Protocol. Despite being the signatory to the Montreal Protocol, and agreeing to phase out production of CFC-11 in 2010, China continued to emit the polluting gas. China has the world’s largest polyurethane foam market, accounting for about 40 per cent of the world’s consumption. Chinese foam manufacturers have been using CFC-11 illegally to save on the higher cost of alternatives, such as hydrochloro-fluorocarbons like HCFC-141b, which is to be phased out in China by 2026.
  • Quad Collation: India, Japan, Australia and the United States constitutes the Quad Collation. The fourth edition of the Quadrilateral meet, after it was revived in November 2017, was held recently at Bangkok, Thailand. They held consultations on collective efforts to “advance a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific”. The meet also referred to efforts to “maintain universal respect for international law and freedom of navigation and overflight”. The idea was first mooted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2007. However, the idea couldn’t move ahead with Australia pulling out of it. Quad is an opportunity for like-minded countries to share notes and collaborate on projects of mutual interest. All four countries share a vision of an open and free Indo-Pacific. Each is involved in development and economic projects as well as in promoting maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
  • Mecca, Saudi Arabia: It is the place where the 14th summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was held recently. The agenda of meeting was to address ‘current issues in Muslim world’ and ‘recent developments in a number of OIC member states. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states. It is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations. The OIC has permanent delegations to the United Nations and the European Union.
  • USA President Donald Trump: He has terminated India’s designation as a beneficiary developing nation under the GSP (Generalized System of Preference)trade program with effect from 5th June 2019.The trigger for the latest downturn in trade ties was India’s new rules on e-commerce that restrict the way Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart-backed Flipkart do business in a rapidly growing online market set to touch $200 billion by 2027. GSP is a U.S. trade program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 4,800 products from 129 designated beneficiary countries and territories. Removal of GSP indicate a tough trade position by the US; especially for countries like India who benefited much from the scheme. India is the 11th largest trade surplus country for the US and India enjoyed an annual trade surplus of $ 21 bn in 2017-18.
  • Equal Measures 2030: They recently released the 2019 edition of SDG Gender Index. Developed by Equal Measures 2030, it is a joint effort of regional and global organisations including African Women’s Development and Communication Network, Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation etc. It accounts for 14 out of 17 SDGs (sustainable development goals) that cover aspects such as poverty, health, education, literacy, political representation and equality at the workplace. India is ranked 95th among 129 countries. India’s highest goal scores are on health (79.9), hunger & nutrition (76.2), and energy (71.8).
  • Economic Performance, Infrastructure, Government Efficiency, Business Efficiency:These are the four parameters on which the economies are judged in the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings. The 2019 edition of the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) Business School World Competitiveness Rankings has been released. Started in 1989, the report ranks 63 economies on 235 indicators which are incorporated from each of these economies. India has moved up one place to rank 43rd (Previously: 44th position in 2018, 45th in 2017 and 41st in 2016.) This improved rank is result of India’s robust economic growth, a large labour force and its huge market size. The 2019 ranking is topped by Singapore. It has grabbed top position for the first time in nine years. In 2018 it stood at third rank.
  • Kilogram: It is the unit whose definition has changed recently. The decision was made at the General Conference on Weights and Measures in 2018. The new definitions came into force on 20 May 2019. The International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) had agreed to change the way we measured weight and as of the World Metrology Day (May20th), the kilogram has shed its 130-year-old definition to be more accurate and consistent. General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) is the highest international body of the world for accurate and precise measurements and comprises of 60 countries including India and 42 Associate Members. The new definition involves an apparatus called the Kibble balance, which makes use of the constant to measure the mass of an object using a precisely measured electromagnetic force.
Current Affairs[May 2019]
  • Srilanka: It is an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. Srilanka bans burqa. The country has been on high alert after the terror blasts that ripped across three cities on the 21st of April in several churches and hotels which took atleast 253 lives and many injured. Over 10,000 military soldiers have been deployed throughout the country. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings that were executed by suicide bombers; and the National Thowheed Jamath as well as Jammiyathul Maillathu Ibrahim are suspected to have links the blasts.
  • Doha, Qatar: The place which hosted the 16th Ministerial Meeting of Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD). Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, H E Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani headed the 2019 dialogue. The Indian delegation was led by Gen. (Dr) V.K. Singh (Retd), Minister of State for External Affairs. The ACD is an inter-governmental organization founded on 18th June, 2002. It has 34 member countries. Its Secretary General is Bundit Limschoon. The ACD’s 1st meeting was held in Thailand in 2002 in which 18 Asian founding countries participated.The major agendas of the ACD 2030’s vision are: promoting ACDs core principles and values and the spirit of Pan-Asian partnership.
  • Canberra,Australia: The place where the 11th meeting of the joint working group on counter-terrorism between India and Australia was held recently on May 2, 2019. Mahaveer Singhvi, Joint Secretary (Counter-Terrorism) led Indian delegation while Paul Foley, Australia’s Ambassador for Counter Terrorism led Australian delegation for the meeting. The objective of this meeting is to discuss the counter-terrorism challenges which both countries are facing such as financing of terrorism, the use of the internet for terror purposes, radicalisation and foreign terrorist fighters. The 10th meeting of Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism between India and Australia was held at New Delhi on June 18, 2018. 5.7% -the estimated growth rate of Asia-Pacific in 2019 as the ADB report.According to Takehiko Nakao, President and Chairperson of Asian Development Bank, the Asia-Pacific region is supposed to grow at 5.7% in 2019 but the rising trade tensions might hinder its growth. ADB’s Asian Development Outlook 2019 report released in April statesthat developing Asia comprising of 45 countries is estimated to grow by 5.7% in 2019 (which is pointed out by Nakao). However, the growth outlook for developing Asia is approximated to come down to 5.6% in 2020.
  • London: It topped the list of cities for the highest Indian investments with an all-time high record of 52 investment projects in 2018. London & Partners (L&P), the Mayor of London’s promotional agency, in the new report analysis, based on FDI (Foreign Direct Investments) Markets and FDI Intelligence data stated that in 2018, the UK became the top-most nation to attract Indian FDI with 52 projects. US attracted Indian FDI with 51 projects while the UAE with 32 projects.
  • Russia: The country from where Indian Navy will acquire 10 ‘Kamov Ka-31’ Airborne Early Warning and Control Helicopter for a deal worth of Rs 3,600 crore after the approval of Ministry of Defence. These 10 helicopters would be deployed on the aircraft carriers and warships of the Indian Navy including the INS Vikrant and Grigorovich-class frigates.The Kamov Ka-31 helicopters will strengthen the capability of Indian Navy against aerial threats to its aircraft carriers and large warships.
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB): It launched 5$ billion Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies for the Asia and Pacific region. This will support ADB’s developing member countries’ efforts for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), inclusive of the SDG 14: Life Below Water. The Healthy Oceans Action Plan was launched at the 52nd Annual Meeting of ADB’s Board of Governors, Fiji. Healthy Oceans Action Plan will expand financing and technical assistance for ocean health and marine economy projects to $5 billion from year 2019 to 2024.
  • Japan: The country where a start-up Interstellar Technology Inc. has successfully launched a first privately developed rocket ‘Momo-3’ into space. The unmanned rocket was launched from its test site in Taiki on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and it reached about 110 km in altitude before falling into the Pacific Ocean after 10 minutes of flight time. The rocket is 10 meters in length, 50 centimeters in diameter and weighs about 1 ton. ‘Momo-3’ rocket has the capability of putting payloads into the orbit.
  • Shahid Afridi: Former captain of Pakistan has recently co-authored his autobiography titled, ‘Game Changer’ with journalist Wajahat S Khan. The book has been published by Harper Collin’s India. Afridi is popularly known as ‘Boom Boom’ and holds the world record for the fastest ODI (One Day International) century in 37 deliveries. He also holds the distinction of having hit the most number of sixes in the history of ODI cricket.
  • SIPRI: Which stands for Stockholm International peace research institute has launched a new initiative named Global Registry of Violent Deaths (GReVD) to establish the annual number of violent deaths worldwide. GReVD will count deaths caused by all forms of violence and display these in an open-source database and enable monitoring of progress on the world’s commitment to ‘significantly reduce all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere’ by 2030 as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—Goal 16.
  • Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan: The place where the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ Meet was organised recently. Nirmala Sitharaman, the current Defence Minister of India held a bilateral meeting with General Wei Fenghe, Honourable Defence Minister of China, in which they discussed regional and bilateral security issues.
  • Kumar Sangakkara: Former Sri Lanka captain has been named as the first non-British president of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). He succeeds Anthony Wreford. It was announced at the MCC annual general meeting at Lord’s on 1 May 2019. He will take up his one-year post in October. Sangakkara, 41-year-old, scored 12,400 runs in 134 tests, appears twice on the honours boards at Lord’s. MCC is the guardian of the Laws of the game and it was founded in 1787 and has been based at Lord’s, which it owns, since 1814. His responsibilities would involve the launch of The Hundred – the England and Wales Cricket Board’s new 100-ball cricket format and two England test matches against West Indies and Pakistan.
  • Emperor Akihito: He recently became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in 200 years. On 30th April 2019, The 125th Emporer of Japan, 85-year-old, Emporer Emeritus Akihito abdicated after 30 years of ruling because of his declining health and age-related problems. His rule was known as Heisei. While his son Emporer Naruhito, 59 -year-old succeeded the Chrysanthemum Throne on 1 May 2019, ushering in the Reiwa era. This is the first time in Japan’s modern History that the country has both an Emporer and Emeritus. Akihito is the first Japanese Emporer to abdicate since Kokaku in 1817.
  • Tijjani Mohammad Bande: The Nigerian Professor has been appointed as the new President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). He is the second Nigerian to be appointed to this post, prior being Mr. Joseph Nanven Garba(1989-1990). Prof. Tijjani Bande will succeed María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés. Prof. Tijjani Bande was born at Zagga (Present-Kebbi State) and he was the permanent representative of Nigeria to the UN.He is the recipient of Nigeria’s Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), one of Nigeria’s highest national honours. Along with this, he has also won merit awards from various institutions and Governments, including US and China.
  • Kami Rita: The Sherpa guide scaled Mount Everest for a 23rd time, breaking his own record for the most successful ascents of the world's highest peak. Rita's two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing. There are 41 different teams with a total of 378 climbers who have been permitted to scale Everest during this year's spring climbing season. There are an equal number of Nepalese guides helping them to get to the summit.
  • Portugal : It is the country where the first brown bear was sighted in over a century. On 9th April 2019, Wildlife Experts from Institute for Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF) have confirmed that the reappearance of brown bear in Portugal after one bear was spotted in the Montesinho Natural Park and Braganca commune in north-eastern Portugal in more than a century. Brown bears have been extinct in Portugal since the 19th century, and the last reports are between the 18th and the end of the 19th century.
  • Qantas : It is the Australian flight carrier recently became the world’s first zero-waste flight. Recently, the Australian flight carrier, Qantas has operated world’s first zero waste commercial flight named QF739 from Sydney to Adelaide which disposed all waste through compost, reuse or recycle. This airline has substituted over 1000 single-use plastic items with more environment friendly items which has helped airline to achieve zero-waste during commercial flight. The Australian airline Qantas has planned to eliminate 100 million single-use plastics by the end of 2020 and also to reduce 75% of airline’s waste by the end of 2021.
  • WHO : Which stands World Health organization collaborated with the International Food and Beverage Alliance (IFBA) to eliminate industrially produced trans fat (iTFA) from food supply worldwide by 2023. Trans fat-intake leads to coronary heart disease, due to which 5,00,000 deaths occur every year globally. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO had a meeting with the IFBA representatives, that included CEOs (chief executive officers) from around 12 companies comprising IFBA. The meeting stressed on the steps that are needed to be taken to eliminate industrial trans fats, decrease salt, sugar and saturated fats in processed foods.
  • Dengvaxia: It is the name of the first Dengue Vaccine which was recently approved by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States. The vaccine is also known as CYD-TDV and made by company Sanofi Pasteur. Mexico was the first country to clear it in the year 2015. The vaccine is a live, attenuated dengue virus. Under the vaccination, 3 doses will be provided to the patient and after 1st dose there will be a difference of 6 months between 1st dose and 2nd dose and also a difference of 6 months between 2nd dose and 3rd dose.
  • Microsoft : Is the company which recently announced the launch of ‘ElectionGuard’ an open source software for secure voting. Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella announced the launch of “ElectionGuard”, a free open-source Software Development Kit(SDK) to help nations to carry out secure and verifiable voting. Developed by Galois, “ElectionGuard” is a supplement to paper ballots. It is verifiable as it allows the voters and third-party organizations to verify election results. “ElectionGuard” provides a voter a unique code. During the process of voting, voters have an optional step which allows them to track their votes from the moment he/she casts it, after the voter has verified the selections are correct to the final step of counting the votes.
  • Samsung : It is the company which recently launched the world’s first highest resolution image sensor of 64 megapixels. This image sensor will be used in upcoming smartphones of Samsung and the objective is to meet the growing demand for smartphones with better image quality.
  • Singapore : it is the country which recently detected a case with the rare monkey pox virus which was brought in by a Nigerian man. He thought to have got this rare virus by eating bushmeat. Monkey pox is a rare disease caused by the virus that is transmitted from animals, such as rodents and monkeys (through the hunting and consumption of bush meat), to humans. It is usually found in the central and western parts of Africa’s tropical rainforest. Symptoms of the disease are lesions, fever, muscle ache and chills.
  • Japan : This country has begun testing the ALFA-X version of its fastest-ever Shinkansen bullet train that could reach 400 km per hour (249 mph). The bullet train ALFA-X (Advanced Labs for Frontline Activity in Rail Experimentation) is scheduled to start its service in 2030, when, rail company JR East would operate it at 360 kilometres per hour (224 mph).This speed will make it 10 kph faster than China’s Fuxing Hao, which links Beijing and Shanghai and operates at the same top speed. This would make ALFA-X, the world’s fastest bullet train. In addition to usual brakes, the ALFA-X will have air brakes on the roof and also use magnetic plates near the rails to decrease speed while slowing down.
  • May and October :They are the month in which the second Saturday is celebrated as the World Migratory Bird Day. In 2019, it was celebrated on May 11 and will be celebrated again on October 10. The theme for this year is “Protect Birds: Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution!”. It is organized by the Secretariats of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) along with Environment for the Americas (EFTA). It is celebrated to raise the awareness on the need for protecting the migratory birds and their habitats.The first world Migratory Day was observed on the weekend of April 8-9, 2006. It is observed that out of the 265 bird species recorded to be caught in plastic litter, 147 species were seabirds (36% of all seabird species), 69 species freshwater birds (10%) and 49 land bird species (0.5%).
  • United Kingdom :This country recently became the first national government to pass an exemplary measure, that is, a national declaration of an Environment and Climate Emergency. This move marks a serious emergency in dealing with climate change. The declaration was preceded by a visit by teenage activist Greta Thunberg (to the Parliament), the feature of David Attenborough’s documentary movie titled ‘Climate Change: The Facts’ and the 11-days of constant protest by an environmental group ‘Extinction Rebellion’. The decision of emergency in Parliament caters to national reductions and investment in the reduction of carbon emissions and saving the planet.
  • Switzerland :The place where in the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG) Geneva, the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-14), the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-9) and the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-9) was held from April 29 to May 10, 2019. The theme of the meeting was “Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste”. In the meeting, 187 countries pledge to restrict the global plastic waste but United States has refused to take part in this pledge.
  • London :The place which has been selected by Facebook to develop WatsApp’s mobile payment service. CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed that it has selected London to be the center to launch WhatsApp Pay. The reason to choose London than US City is because WhatsApp is widely used in UK and London is considered as a Hub for Fintech. WhatsApp has 1.5 billion users globally, out of which, more than 200 million users are in India. In April, the Reserve Bank of India issued a circular with regard to data localization policy for payment system providers. Data localization means the storage of data within India. On May 3, Facebook assured the Supreme Court that it would adhere to the RBI’s data localization norms before the launch of the full payments service in India.
  • United Kingdom :The country with which India recently had Foreign Office consultations in which both countries have agreed to strengthen their ties in the field of Indo-Pacific cooperation, climate change, disaster resilience, development in third world countries and others. Foreign Secretary, Vijay Gokhale led the Indian delegation and Sir Simon McDonald, Permanent Under-Secretary Foreign and Commonwealth Office of British government led the UK delegation. Besides the meeting, UK representative Sir Simon McDonald formally handed the instrument of ratification of the UK joining the International Solar Alliance (ISA) to Vijay Gokhale.
  • Lisbon :The place in Portugal where United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has decided to hold Ocean Conference 2020 from June 2 to 6, 2020 with a theme of “Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions.” The objective of this conference is to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) which stated as to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  • The United Arab Emirates (UAE) :This country has launched ‘Golden Card’ Permanent Residency Scheme in an attempt to woo wealthy individuals and exceptional talents from all over the world. It is open to investors and ‘exceptional talents’ like scientists, engineers, doctors, students and artists. As part of initiative, the first group of 6800 investors from more than 70 countries with investments of about 100 Billion Dirhams (USD 27 billion), were being given permanent residency. The Golden Card is UAE’s way to welcome all those seeking to be a part of the UAE’s success story and making it a second home. It is introduced keeping in mind that Residents are an indispensable part of country and thus will be permanent partners in UAE’s journey.
  • Resolutions passed at 72nd WHA :To take measures to implement the Declaration of Astana vowing to strengthen primary healthcare and achieve universal health coverage by 2030. To support community health worker programmes and allocate adequate resources. The member states shall push for UHC with focus on poor, vulnerable and marginalized individuals and groups. These were the resolutions passed by the delegates at the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva to ensure that the world meets the universal health coverage (UHC) target of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the forum through which the World Health Organization (WHO) is governed by its 194 member states. It is the world’s highest health policy setting body and is composed of health ministers from member states. The members of the World Health Assembly generally meet every year in May in Geneva, the location of WHO Headquarters.
  • Algeria and Argentina :These are the two countries which were declared as malaria-free by The World Health Organization (WHO) with no recorded cases of indigenous transmission of the disease since 2013 and 2010 respectively. While Algeria is the second African country to be officially recognised as malaria-free, after Mauritius (certified in 1973), Argentina is the second country in the Americas to be certified in 45 years, after Paraguay in June 2018.
  • Tokyo :It is hosting the second U20 Mayors Summit. The summit takes place one month ahead of the G20 Osaka Summit. This will allow invited Mayors to discuss and approve a communiqué which will be formally presented to the G20. Mayors of 30 major cities from across the world have urged the Global leaders to act fast on climate change, social inclusion and sustainable economic growth. The issues highlighted by the mayors and city governors are represented in the United Nations-mandated sustainable development goals, the deadline of which is 2030. Urban 20 (U20) is an initiative developed in 2017 under the leadership of the Mayor of Buenos Aires and Mayor of Paris, and convened by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) in collaboration with United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG).
  • Jokha Alharthi :An author from Oman won the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for her Arabic novel “Celestial Bodies”. She became the first Arabic language writer to win this award. Alharthi will share her prize money with her UK-based translator named Marilyn Booth. Man Booker International Prize is an international literary award sponsored by the ‘Man Group’, which is the same organisation that gives Man Booker Prize for fiction. It is counterpart to Man Booker Prize for English-language novels
  • Stevo Pendarovski :He was recently elected as the new President of North Macedonia. Backed by North Macedonia’s ruling party, the 55-year-old former political-science professor won the presidential runoff vote amid promises to push the Balkan state towards NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and European Union membership. He will succeed Gjorge Ivanov. Pendarovski had 51.7% of votes whereas Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, his challenger, had 44.7% votes. Siljanovska-Davkova is North Macedonia’s first female candidate and a university professor. North Macedonia is 1 of the poorest countries in Europe with an average monthly salary of about 470$.
  • Laurentino “Nito” Cortizo :He was recently elected as the new President of Panama. The Panama Electoral Tribunal recently announced him as the winner of Panama’s presidential election. He will succeed Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez. Cortizo was the candidate for the left-wing Democratic Revolutionary Party. Cortizo (with 33% of the votes) closest rival was Romulo Roux (with 31% votes). Romulo was from the former President Ricardo Martinelli’s right wing Democratic Change Party. This was the 6th presidential election in Panama, since a US invasion removed strongman Manuel Noriega in 1989.
  • Anthropocene :It is the one which a team of scientists have voted to declare as a new chapter in the Earth’s geological history- the new epoch. The result builds on an informal vote taken at the 2016 International Geological Congress in Cape Town, and lays the groundwork for a formal proposal by 2021 to the International Commission on Stratigraphy. Coined by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000 to denote the present geological time interval, Anthropocene has been used to describe humanity’s large impact on the environment. The move signals the end of the Holocene epoch, which began 12,000 to 11,600 years ago. To show a clear transition from the Holocene, the scientists plan to identify a definitive geologic marker or ‘golden spike’, and would be technically called a Global boundary Stratotype Section and Point (GSSP). For this, the group will search for the marker from around the globe, including a cave in northern Italy, corals in the Great Barrier Reef and a lake in China.
  • Noordward :The place in the Netherlands is the site of the ‘Room for the River’ project. The flagship project of the Dutch government is centered around protecting areas adjoining rivers from routine flooding and improving water management systems in delta regions. The basic premise of the ‘Room for the River’ project is essentially to provide more space for the water body so that it can manage extraordinary high-water levels during floods. The project, implemented at over 30 locations across the Netherlands and funded at a cost of 2.3 billion euros, involves tailor-made solutions for each river. Among the nine measures which define the project are lowering the flood plain, deepening the summer bed, strengthening of dykes, relocation of dykes, reducing the height of the groynes, increasing the depth of the side channels and removing obstacles.
  • Finland :They held the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Lappi Areena, Rovaniemi, Finland on May 7, 2019. The dignitaries from the 8 Arctic States had approved the work completed under the 2-year Finnish Chairmanship to enhance sustainable development and environmental conservation in the Arctic region. The Arctic States were joined by delegates from the Arctic Council’s Permanent Participant organizations, the heads of the 6 Working Groups, and Observers. Arctic States concluded the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting by signing a joint agreement as the Arctic Council Ministers meet, passed the Chairmanship from Finland to Iceland. The Members of the Arctic Council are: the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.
  • Metz :In France is the place where the G7’s (Group of Seven) Environment Ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States gathered for a 2-day meeting to discuss on steps required to handle deforestation, plastic pollution, depletion of coral reefs and ways to build pacts between the countries in order to achieve the target. IMF (International Monetary Fund) notified that the G7 nations have the 7 largest advanced economies globally, thus representing 58% of the net global wealth which amounts to 317 $ trillion. The G7 countries also represent more than 46% of the global GDP (Gross Domestic Product) based on nominal values, and more than 32% of the global GDP based on purchasing power parity. The delegates from the European Union, Chile, Egypt, the Fiji Islands, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Niger and Norway joined the ministers in the meeting.
Current Affairs[April 2019]
  • UNSC: It is the acronym for United Nations Security Council is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, charged with ensuring international peace and security, accepting new members to the United Nations and approving any changes to its charter. In a move that would solve the long stalled reforms in UNSC, India has pressed the Africa's right to representation among the ranks of the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Joint Secretary in the External Affairs Ministry Sanjay Rana said, 'We must take action so that Africa is given a central and leading role in an internationally formed new order especially in a reformed and expanded Security Council and so that the Council reflects the world of today and not of 1945.' It should be noted that India is stressing on Africa's right to permanent membership in the UNSC to break the decades-long blockade of the reform process by a small group of countries. The group led by Italy and which includes Pakistan will be made to directly confront African nations, who have demanded two permanent seats on a reformed Council and point to the historic injustices done to the continent.
  • Malawi: It is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa. Malawi became testing ground for large-scale pilot tests for the world's most advanced experimental malaria vaccine. Test was done in a bid to prevent the disease that kills hundreds of thousands across Africa each year. After more than three decades in development and almost USD 1 billion in investment, the cutting-edge trial will be rolled out in Malawi's capital Lilongwe this week and then in Kenya and Ghana next week. It aims to immunise 120,000 children aged two years and under to assess the effectiveness of the pilot vaccine and whether the delivery process is feasible. Four successive doses must be administered on a strict timetable for it to work. Trade-named Mosquirix, the drug has been developed by British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline in partnership with the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative. Trial test yeilded positive results in the previous scientific testing -- including five years of clinical trials on 15,000 people in seven countries -- and was approved for the pilot programme in 2015. Malaria episodes reduced by 40 percent in the trials. Although the potential vaccine will not give full protection against the mosquito-borne disease, it is the furthest along in development and so far the most effective. Scientists say if it was rolled out on a large-scale it could save hundreds of thousands of lives. The World Health Organisation (WHO) believes that the new vaccine brings a key new tool beyond mosquito nets, insecticides and drugs in the battle against the disease.
  • Iran: It is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. US President Donald Trump has decided to end exemptions from sanctions for countries still buying oil from Iran. According to report from White House, waivers were included for China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey as the sanctions would expire in May, after which they could face US sanctions themselves. This decision is intended to bring Iran's oil exports to zero, denying the government its main source of revenue. Iran insisted the sanctions were illegal and that it had attached no value or credibility to the waivers. Mr Trump reinstated the sanctions last year after abandoning a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers. Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for sanctions relief. The Trump administration hopes to compel Iran to negotiate a new deal that would cover not only its nuclear activities, but also its ballistic missile programme and what officials call its malign behaviour across the Middle East. The sanctions have led to a sharp downturn in Iran's economy, pushing the value of its currency to record lows, quadrupling its annual inflation rate, driving away foreign investors, and triggering protests.
  • Oil imports: India has decided to stop imports from Iran after US has made the annoucement for cancel waivers. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said that India has plans to increase imports from major oil producing nations other than Iran, indicating that it will be acceding to the U.S. plan to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. The U.S. has announced that it would be cancelling the waivers from sanctions it had granted eight countries, including India, allowing them to import oil from Iran. Following the revocation of this waiver, any country violating the ban would face U.S. sanctions. Mr. Pradhan said that the government has put in place a robust plan for adequate supply of crude oil to Indian refineries. The Opposition, meanwhile, has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not speaking up about the U.S. sanctions, questioning how another country can dictate where and how India secures its energy requirements. Terming it a 'surgical strike' on India by the U.S., Congress leaders said that the American decision to impose sanctions on those who continue to buy oil from Iran after May 1 was a failure of diplomacy of the Prime Minister.
  • Border reaction force: It is a new joint border reaction force formed by Pakistan and Iran to counter terrorism. Decision was taken after Iran faced deadly attacks on their frontier. The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced yesterday after talks with visiting Prime Minister Imran Khan. Making the annoucement at the joint news conference with Rouhani, Pakistan Imran Khan said, 'The most important reason why I’m here, Mr President, is because I felt that the issue of terrorism was going to ... increase differences between our countries. So it was very important for me to come here and come with our security chief that we resolve this issue. We agreed to create a joint rapid reaction force at the borders for combatting terrorism,’ Rouhani announced, following months of increased tensions over attacks on both sides of the frontier'. The border skirts the volatile southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan which has been the scene of frequent attacks on Iran’s security forces. Khan’s visit to Iran, the first since he took office last year, comes after gunmen who Islamabad says were based in Iran killed 14 members of Pakistan’s security forces last week in its own Baluchistan province.
  • NepaliSat-1: It is the first ever satellite from Nepal. It will be soon start rotating around the Earth’s orbit to collect information about the country’s topography and Earth’s magnetic field. It was launched at 2.31 a.m. from the Virginia-based station of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the US, according to authorities at the Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST). The satellite, developed by two Nepalis -- Abhas Maskey and Hariram Shrestha at Japan's Kyushu Institute of Technology, bears the Nepal flag and the NAST logo. Similar satellites from Japan and Sri Lanka were also launched alongside NepaliSat-1, reports The Kathmandu Post. According to the NAST, the satellite is equipped with a 5MP camera to capture Nepal's topography and a magnetometer to collect data related to the Earth's magnetic field. The satellite will first reach the International Space Station. It will then start rotating around the earth after a month.
  • Indo-Pacific division: It is the new division created by Ministry of External Affairs. The main objective of the Indo-pacific division is intended to give a coherent architecture to the Indo-Pacific policy articulated by PM Narendra Modi at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018. The Wing is currently headed by joint secretary Vikram Doraiswami. The move is considered as the big step by the government and it is expected to give thrust to the Indo-Pacific centred policymaking. It integrates the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), ASEAN region and the Quad. The Indo-Pacific diplomacy of India India has repeatedly placed ASEAN at the centre of its policy. Even the US has recently renamed its Pacific Command to the Indo-Pacific Command as it seeks to give teeth to its Indo-Pacific policy.
  • Seychelles : It is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. The Seychelles president Danny Faure has gone below the surface of the Indian Ocean to call for better protection for the world's seas. He said that a healthy ocean was crucial for the survival of humanity" in a broadcast made 124m (406ft) below sea level. He had joined a British-led expedition exploring the ocean's depths. During the live broadcast Mr Faure could be seen in the submersible wearing a Seychelles T-shirt. He told viewers that the ocean was the beating blue heart of our planet" and said that it was under threat like never before. We have managed to seriously impact this environment through climate change. I can see the incredible wildlife that needs protection. Over the years we have created these problems, we must solve them and we must solve them together.
  • The United Nations Mission in South Sudan : It is the newest United Nations peacekeeping mission for the recently independent South Sudan, which became independent on 9 July 2011. A total of 150 Indian peacekeepers serving with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) have received medals of honour for their dedicated service and sacrifice. The medals were given to the 150 Indian peacekeepers serving in UNMISS in Malakal during a ceremony filled with parades and performances by a piped band. Colonel Amit Gupta, deployed with UNMISS in Malakal, was among the recipients of the medal of honour. A UNMISS news article said Gupta commands a battalion of 850 soldiers in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan. Under his command, his men have conducted highly sought-after veterinary camps and run a veterinary hospital in Malakal, with a second expected to be completed in Kodok a major town along the west bank of the Nile in a few weeks' time. India is one of the top troop contributing countries to UN peacekeeping missions. More than 200,000 military and police have served over the past 70 years and 168 Indian military personnel have lost their lives under the UN flag. India is the second largest contributor of peacekeepers to UNMISS with more than 2,400 military and police personnel currently deployed the mission.
  • WHO: It is an acronym for World Health Organization which is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. WHO has released new recommendations for digital health interventions. The new recommendations include 10 ways that countries can use digital health technology, accessible via mobile phones, tablets and computers, to improve people’s health and essential services. Speaking on the development, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, 'Harnessing the power of digital technologies is essential for achieving universal health coverage. Ultimately, digital technologies are not ends in themselves; they are vital tools to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable'. Over the past two years, WHO systematically reviewed evidence on digital technologies and consulted with experts from around the world to produce recommendations on some key ways such tools may be used for maximum impact on health systems and people’s health. One digital intervention already having positive effects in some areas is sending reminders to pregnant women to attend antenatal care appointments and having children return for vaccinations. Other digital approaches reviewed include decision-support tools to guide health workers as they provide care; and enabling individuals and health workers to communicate and consult on health issues from across different locations.
  • Raavana- 1: It is the first satellite of Srilanka. According to reports, the satellite was launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's East Shore. The event which occurred at 2.16 am marked Sri Lanka's entry into the global space age. BIRDS-3 satellites from Japan, Nepal and Sri Lanka were taken to International Space Station (ISS) as a cargo and had been boarded onto Antares rocket in this mission which is carrying the Cygnus cargo spacecraft. Raavana 1 had been designed and built by Research Engineers Tharindu Dayaratne and Dulani Chamika from the Arthur C. Clarke Institute, Moratuwa, at the Kyushu Institute of Technology in Japan. It is 1,000 cubic cm in size and weighs 1.1 kg. It is set to be launched into orbit by the end of May or the outset of June. The satellite is It is expected to orbit the Earth for approximately 15 times per day. Its speed is estimated at 7.6 km per second. It is expected to orbit 400 km away from earth and will have a minimum lifespan of one and a half years. 'Raavana 1' was designed to accomplish five missions. Its camera mission is to take pictures of Sri Lanka and its neighbouring countries. Its Lora Demonstration Mission is to validate the module/to be used to data download next satellites. The Attitude Determination and Control Mission of 'Ravaana 1' involve the team trying to reduce the angular velocity of the satellite using magnetic torquers. Raavana 1 was officially handed over to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on February 18, 2019.
  • Online Harms White paper: It is a name of the document released by UK Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport in association with Home Office. The White paper sets out a programme of action to tackle content or activity that harms individual users, particularly children, or threatens our way of life in the UK, either by undermining national security or by undermining our shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities to foster integration. Public consultation has been called on for the white paper. Suggestions Made in the White Paper are establishing an independent regulator that can write a code of practice; for social networks and internet companies. Giving the regulator enforcement powers including the ability to fine companies that break the rules. Considering additional enforcement powers such as the ability to fine company executives and force internet service providers to block sites that break the rules. The white paper covers a range of issues that are clearly defined in law such as spreading terrorist content, child sex abuse, so-called revenge pornography, hate crimes, harassment and the sale of illegal goods together with harmful behaviour that has a less clear legal definition such as cyber-bullying, trolling and the spread of fake news and disinformation.
  • World Trade Organisation (WTO): It is an intergovernmental organization that is concerned with the regulation of international trade between nations. India will be hosting the second informal meeting of trade ministers from about 20 member nations of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on May 13,2019. This meeting assumes significance as several countries are raising questions over the relevance of the WTO. Many countries are also taking protectionist measures, which is impacting the global trade. However, India has time and again stressed the importance and relevance of the WTO for promoting global trade. Further, India will seek to get developing countries to discuss the future of the multilateral body and the development agenda next month. Key highlights are, a global framework for e-commerce, an issue that is being pushed hard by the US. Even China is not against negotiations. Further, India may also be willing to discuss the issue as it had recently floated a draft e-commerce policy as part of the preparations. Recently, India had told the WTO that it will not join the negotiations to develop trade rules on e-commerce. India fears that new rules could provide the pretext for unfair mandatory market access to foreign companies. This will hurt the rapidly growing domestic e-commerce sector, which is still under initial stages.
  • United States: It is a country of 50 states covering a vast swath of North America. A group of half a dozen influential American lawmakers has reintroduced an important legislation in the House of Representatives which seeks to advance the US-India strategic relationship. According to officials, the act if enacted, the legislation would ensure that the US State Department treat India as a NATO ally for the purposes of the Arms Export Control Act. It would send a powerful signal that defence sales to India should be prioritised according to US-India Strategic Partnership Forum, which had worked on this important legislation. The bill H R 2123 was introduced this week by Congressman Joe Wilson, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
  • Bolivia: It is a country in central South America, with a varied terrain spanning Andes Mountains, the Atacama Desert and Amazon Basin rainforest. India and Bolivia have signed eight Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) in diverse sectors including culture space and medicine. Indian President Ramnath Govind said, 'We are happy to have Bolivia as a partner in the International Solar Alliance and welcome the signing of the framework agreement establishing the bond. In addition, we have signed eight MoUs in the fields of culture, Visa waiver arrangement for diplomats, the exchange between diplomatic academies, mining, space, traditional medicine, the establishment of Centre of Excellence in IT and Bi-Oceanic Railway project'.
  • Malawi: It is a landlocked country in southeastern Africa, is defined by its topography of highlands split by the Great Rift Valley and enormous Lake Malawi. India will be developing an agricultural institute in Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa. According to sources, India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Consultancy Service (NABCONS) for setting up the India-Africa Institute of Agriculture and Rural Development (IAIARD) in Malawi. Ministry of External Affairs signed on Tuesday with NABCONS for setting up IAIARD, an attempt to complement the efforts of the Government of India to enhance capacity in the areas of agro-financing and entrepreneurship development for African countries. According to an official statement, 'IAIARD will be a pan-African institute wherein trainees not only from Malawi but also from other African countries, will receive training to develop their human resources and build their capacity. IAIARD will develop training programmes in the areas of micro-financing and agro-financing, among others. This institute will be the first of its kind developed in an African country by India. This will further strengthen bilateral relations with Malawi and India's relations with the African Union'.
  • Reiwa: It is the new name created for the era of new emperor Crown Prince Naruhito's reign. The title was choosen from two Chinese characters, the first meaning 'good' or 'beautiful' as well as 'order' or 'command' and the second meaning 'peace'. According to various sources, the characters were taken from the Manyoshu, an ancient collection of Japanese poetry, in a break with the tradition of selections from ancient Chinese texts. The name implied culture is born and nourished when people's hearts are drawn beautifully together. It is selected from a Japanese classical text, it is said that it is a collection which expresses our nation's rich culture, which we should take pride in, along with our nation's beautiful nature.
Current Affairs[March 2019]
  • Sharada Peeth: It is an abandoned Hindu temple and ancient centre of learning in the Pakistani administered territory of Azad Kashmir. The Pakistan government approved a proposal to establish a corridor that will allow Hindu pilgrims from India to visit Sharda Peeth, an ancient Hindu temple and cultural site in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The Sharda Peeth corridor, when opened, will be the second religious tract after Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan-controlled territory that will connect the two neighbouring nations. India had already sent a proposal to Pakistan to open the temple corridor, the Express Tribune reported quoting sources in Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Established in 237 BC during the reign of Ashoka, the 5,000-year-old Sharada Peeth is an abandoned temple and ancient centre of learning dedicated to the Hindu goddess of learning. Between the 6th and 12th centuries CE, Sharada Peeth was one of the foremost temple universities of the Indian subcontinent. It is also one of the three famous holy sites for Kashmiri Pandits, the other two being the Martand Sun Temple in Anantnag and the Amarnath temple. Kashmiri Pandit organisations have been demanding opening of the Sharda Peeth corridor for many years now.
  • NBCTF : It is an acronym for Nuclear, biological, chemical training facility. It was inaugurated at INS Shivaji in Lonavala by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba. The NBCTF, which is termed as Abhedya, impenetrable in Sanskrit, will help train personnel of naval ships fitted with nuclear, biological and chemical detection and protection systems. In a statement, the Navy said the facility will provide realistic training to naval personnel in detection, protection against and decontamination of nuclear, biological and chemical agents. Admiral Lanba launched the INS Shivaji's website on the Indian Navy portal. He also released the platinum jubilee logo, with the theme Propelling the Indian Navy since 1945, for the premier technical training establishment. INS Shivaji is celebrating its platinum jubilee year in 2019-20.
  • Grand Order of the King of Tomislav: It is a highest civilian award from Croatia. President Ram Nath Kovind was honoured with Croatia’s highest civilian award — the Grand Order of the King of Tomislav. Kovind is in Croatia as a part of his eight-day three-nation visit to Croatia, Bolivia and Chile to further strengthen bilateral ties between India and the three countries. Making the annoucement, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Ravish Kumar said, ' President of India honoured with highest civilian order in Croatia! During his State Visit to Croatia, Presidentkovind is honoured with Grand Order of the King of Tomislav, the highest award of Croatia. President Kovind dedicated it to India-Croatia friendship'. The civilian order is awarded to heads of state for their important contribution towards the development of state relations between Croatia and their respective countries. Kovind, who is the first-ever Indian head of state to visit Croatia, was earlier accorded a ceremonial welcome here. He is in the European nation from March 25 to March 28.
  • Islamic State: It is a Salafi jihadist militant group and former unrecognised proto-state that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi doctrine of Sunni Islam. The Islamic State group has been defeated in Syria by Kurdish-led forces. Kurdish-led forces announced the end of Islamic State’s nearly five-year-old caliphate after forcing diehard jihadists from their last stronghold in Eastern Syria. According to an official statement, 'Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of [the] so-called caliphate and 100% territorial defeat of ISIS. The SDF had taken full control of Baghouz, a small village on the Euphrates where diehard jihadists made a last stand'. At its height, the Islamic State group ruled a third of both Syria and Iraq, holding millions of people hostage to violent interpretations of Islamic law. The group carried out large-scale massacres. During a rampage through Iraq’s Sinjar region in 2014, it captured thousands of women and girls from the Yazidi religious minority and forced them into sexual slavery and many remain missing even today. The group also used its caliphate as a launch pad for attacks around the globe – including the 2015 assaults in Paris that killed more than 130 people. Fighters from the US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance raised their yellow flag in Baghouz early today to celebrate the landmark victory.
  • New Zealand: It is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean consisting of 2 main islands, both marked by volcanoes and glaciation. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a ban on all military-style semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles. Making the annoucement, Jacinda Ardern said, 'I am announcing that New Zealand will ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons. We will also ban all assault rifles'. She announced the interim measures that will stop a rush of purchases before legislation on the measures takes effect. High-capacity magazines and devices similar to bump stocks - which make rifles fire faster - will also be banned. In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack will be banned in this country. Anyone who keeps the guns after an amnesty period will face fines of up to NZUSD 4,000 and three years in jail. Ms Ardern brushed aside suggestions of opposition to the ban. The vast majority of New Zealanders will support this change.
  • Specialised Gurkha Infantry Battalion: It is a new army battalion which is about to be established in British Army. It is also the 3rd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles to be created in the Army. The 3rd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles will join other members of the Specialist Infantry Group, to complete plans set out in the 2015 Defence Review to establish up to five Specialised Infantry Battalions. These specialised Infantry Battalions are designed to provide expert capacity building and training skills with a focus on niche capabilities or areas of the world. For more than 200 years, Gurkhas have been an integral part of the British Armed Forces and have demonstrated exceptional military aptitude, with a 100% pass rate through basic training. Gurkha soldiers continue to make an exemplary contribution to the British Army through the unique skills they offer, including specialist language skills, which enable them to build longstanding relationships with the United Kingdom’s global partners.
  • Kazakhstan : It is a Central Asian country and former Soviet republic, extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at its eastern border with China and Russia. Kazakhastan has renamed capital ‘Nursultan’ after ex-President. Interim President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev proposed changing the name of the Central Asian nation's capital from Astana to Nursultan. Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was sworn in, following the shock resignation of the country’s long-time ruler and in his first official act renamed the capital after his predecessor. The parliament approved the change within hours. The Senate also appointed Mr. Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter Dariga Nazarbayeva as Speaker, setting her up as a potential contender to succeed her father. Mr. Tokayev told lawmakers that Mr. Nazarbayev had 'shown wisdom' by deciding to step down, a rare move in ex-Soviet Central Asia where other leaders have stayed in power until death.
  • European Union: It is a political and economic union of 28 member states that are located primarily in Europe.The European Union is planning to expand its blacklist of tax havens and is planning to add 10 more countries. According to an official, 'It is expected that the updated blacklist will contain 15 countries, and the updated gray list contains 23 countries. The list was first put together in 2017 to name and shame non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes and will be amended at a meeting of EU economy and finance ministers meet in Brussels'. Seven countries are to be moved back from a gray list because commitments previously made have not been respected. These are Aruba, Belize, Bermuda, Fiji, Oman, Vanuatu and Dominica. They are joined by five more countries entering the naughty list for the first time, whose tax regimes, according to the Commission's assessment, have gotten worse over the past months, these are Barbados, the United Arab Emirates — that's still being debated — and the Marshall Islands.
  • China: It is a populous nation in East Asia whose vast landscape encompasses grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and large coastline. China has blocked India's bid to declare Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a global terrorist for the fourth time. Action comes despite the India's huge diplomatic pressure to ban the JeM chief, who is the mastermind behind the ghastly suicide bomb attack in Jammu and Kashmir, which left 44 CRPF jawans dead. After the February-14 Pulwama terrorist attack, the US, the UK and France had moved the United Nations (UN) to declare Masood a global terrorist on February 27. However, China has again chosen to side with its 'all-weather friend' Pakistan, citing it wanted a solution (of the conflict in J&K) 'acceptable to all'.
  • Iran: It is also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Iran has announced the successful flight test of its new Hoveizeh long-range cruise missile. The announcement has coincided with celebrations for the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution. According to an official, 'The test of the Hoveizeh cruise missile was carried out successfully at a range of 1,200 km and accurately hit the set target. The Hoveizeh, part of the Soumar family of cruise missiles unveiled in 2015, has a range of over 1,350 km (840 miles) and is designed to be used against ground targets. Cruise missiles with a range of over 1,000 km are classified as long range. The Hoveizeh missile needs a very short time for its preparedness and can fly at a low altitude. An undated video released by the defense ministry showed the Hoveizeh being test-fired from a mobile launcher. Hoveizeh is manufactured by the Aerospace Industries Organization and will be used by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force. Iran began ten days of celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution which deposed the monarch Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, replacing his government with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
  • Macedonia: It is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. Macedonia has signed an accord to join NATO to become the 30th member of the US-led alliance. At a formal signing of the NATO accession protocol, Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov hailed the moment as showing that the country will never walk alone once in the alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the admittance of a new member highlighted that all European nations who meet the entrance criteria could join the regional alliance. However, Moscow has continually rejected NATO's position, saying that by taking in Balkan members, the alliance is undermining security in the region. The Macedonia-NATO accord follows a deal with Greece ending a 27-year-old dispute over Macedonia's name. The accord must now be ratified by allied governments.
  • Thailand: It is a Southeast Asian country. It's known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. Siamese fighting fish has been named Thailand’s national aquatic animal. Known in the Western World as a betta fish, the underwater brawler is popular in home aquariums for its iridescent body and many-hued tail. According to an official statement, cabinet of Thailand greenlighted a proposal for the fighting fish to be the national fish, citing its historical and cultural significance. It brings up feelings of nostalgia for older generations in Thailand – which changed its name from Siam in 1939. They remember a time when the fish were traded and sparred in childhood games. Children looking for the fish today will mostly see it in pet shops.
Current Affairs[February 2019]
  • South Korea:It is an East Asian nation on the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, shares one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders with North Korea.India and South Korea signed seven agreements to enhance cooperation in key areas, including infrastructure development, media, start-ups and combating trans-border and international crime. The agreements were signed after Prime Minister Narendra Modi two-day visit to South Korea to strengthen India's strategic ties with the country, was accorded an official reception at the Blue House, the executive office and official residence of the South Korean President Moon Jae-in here. He also met First lady Kim Jung-sook. The memorandum of understandings (MoUs) were signed after the two leaders held constructive talks on enhancing bilateral cooperation in a number of areas including trade, investment, defence and security.
  • Sweden: It is a Scandinavian nation with thousands of coastal islands and inland lakes, along with vast boreal forests and glaciated mountains. India and Sweden have signed a security protection agreement that will enable the two countries to share classified information with each other. According to an official statement, the agreement was signed during Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's visit to the Nordic country. Sitharaman also met Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven and her Swedish counterpart Peter Hultqvist. The purpose of the visit was to sign a security protection agreement between Sweden and India. The signing of the security protection agreement between Sweden and India will enable both countries to share classified information with each other. Sweden has had similar agreements with over 30 countries around the world, as well as with the EU and NATO.
  • 'Fateh' Submarine: It is a locally-made submarine capable of firing cruise missiles developed by Iran. Named the Fateh (Farsi for 'Conqueror'), the new submarine is Iran's first in the semi-heavy category, filling a gap between the light Ghadir class and the heavy Kilo class submarines that the country possesses. 600-tonne underwater vessel is equipped with torpedoes and naval mines in addition to cruise missiles, and can operate more than 200 metres below sea level for up to 35 days.It should be noted that Iran's Revolutionary Guards on February 7 unveiled a new ballistic missile with a range of 1,000 kilometres (620 miles). The surface-to-surface missile -- called Dezful -- is an upgrade on the older Zolfaghar model that had a range of 700 kilometres.
  • Argentina: It is a massive South American nation with terrain encompassing Andes mountains, glacial lakes and Pampas grassland, the traditional grazing ground of its famed beef cattle. India and Argentina inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost cooperation in the sector of nuclear energy. Argentina minister for foreign affairs Jorge Faurie said his country has expertise in building small-capacity reactors and was looking to work with India in some third country in tripartite projects. According to a joint statment, PM Narendra and Argentine President Mauricio Macri have signed the MoU signed on the occasion between the Department of Atomic Energy, India, and National Atomic Energy Commission, Argentina, for cooperation within the framework of Global Center for Nuclear Energy Partnership would bolster institutional linkages in civil nuclear research, development and capacity building. The two countries also wished to enhance and explore cooperative ventures in the area of nuclear power and its societal uses in the fields of health, agriculture, industrial application, training and capacity building. India and Argentina had signed an agreement in 2010 for cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Argentine company INVAP is working on the Fission Molly Project to build a molybdenum plant in Mumbai. Faurie said the plant focuses on creating isotopes. Argentina also manufactures some components used in Indian power reactors.
  • US Space Force: It is a new defence force proposed by US President Donald Trump. United States has decided to created a US Space Force, a new branch of the military dedicated to handling threats in space. US President Donald Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 4, which puts in place the foundation for a legislative initiative that could establish a Space Force as a new military service comparable to the US Marines. The memo directs the Department of Defense to marshal its space resources to deter and counter threats in space through the establishment of Space Force that would be part of the Air Force. Establishing the Space Force will require Congressional approval. Space Force would be an armed branch of the military and include both combat and combat support functions to enable prompt and sustained offensive and defensive space operations. Experts feel that the establishment of Space Force was still a long way off, including intricate details of how we move forward in establishing this service within the Department of the Air Force. From a war-fighting perspective the most important step that we take going forward, and the one that we need to do the quickest, is to establish a US Space Command as a combatant commander. The Air Force is the US military branch that currently has responsibility for space.
  • Most Favoured Nation (MFN) : It is a status accorded to an international trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between all partner countries of the WTO. A country which provides MFN status to another country has to provide concessions, privileges, and immunity in trade agreements. It is the first clause in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Indian government has withdrawn 'Most Favoured Nation' (MFN) status accorded to Pakistan. Making the annoucement, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said the Ministry of External Affairs will initiate all possible steps to ensure complete isolation from the international community of Pakistan, which is expected to have a hand in the attack carried out by terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed.
  • Hungary: It is a landlocked country in Central Europe. Its capital, Budapest, is bisected by the Danube River. Hungary is planning to offer life tax exemption for women with 4 or more kids. Aiming to encourage women to have more children and resolve the declining population, Hungary’s government has announced a series of benefits for women. Making the announcement Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, highlighted a series of benefits. The benefits include a lifetime personal income-tax exemption for women who give birth and raise at least four children; a subsidy of 2.5 million forints (USD 8,825) toward the purchase a seven-seat vehicle for families with three or more children; and a low-interest loan of 10 million forints (USD 35,300) for women under age 40 who are marrying for the first time. Orban, who has made zero tolerance for immigration his main theme in the past four years and was elected to a third consecutive term in April, said the initiative is meant to ensure the survival of the Hungarian nation.
  • Abu Dhabi: It is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, sits off the mainland on an island in the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) has added Hindi as the third official language to be spoken in the city's courts, alongside Arabic and English. According to a release from ADJD, this step was aimed at helping foreigners to learn about litigation procedures, their rights and duties without a language barrier, in addition to facilitating registration procedures via unified forms available through the Department's website. Making the annoucement, Yousef Saeed Al Abri, undersecretary of the ADJD said, 'The adoption of multilingual interactive forms for claim sheets, grievances and requests, aims to promote judicial services and increase the transparency of litigation procedures. This is in addition to facilitating registration procedures to the public through simplified and easy forms and raising litigants' legal awareness via interactive forms of the statements of claims, to ensure access to the legal materials related to the subject of the dispute. The adoption of new languages comes as part of the bilingual litigation system, the first phase of which was launched in November 2018, through the adoption of procedures requiring the plaintiffs to translate case documents in civil and commercial lawsuits into English, if the defendant is a foreigner. One must note that United Arab Emirates' population of over 9 million people, 88.5 per cent are expatriate workers. Indians account for 38 per cent of the UAE population.
  • Norway: It is a Scandinavian country encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change today signed a letter of Intent establishing the India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative together with the Norwegian ministry of Foreign Affairs. In January, 2019, the Indian and Norwegian governments agreed to work more closely on oceans by signing a MoU and establishing the India-Norway Ocean Dialogue during the Norwegian Prime Minister’s visit to India in January. A joint Task Force on Blue Economy with government officials, researchers and experts as well as private sector was established to develop sustainable solutions within strategic areas of the blue economy, such as maritime and marine sector in addition to energy sector. In partnership, Norway and India will share experiences and competence, and collaborate on efforts to develop clean and healthy oceans, sustainable use of ocean resources and growth in the blue economy. Both the governments launched the first Joint initiative under this new partnership. The India-Norway Marine Pollution Initiative will combat marine pollution, which is one of the fastest growing environmental concerns.
  • Iran: It is also called Persia and officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Iran has announced the successful flight test of its new Hoveizeh long-range cruise missile. The announcement has coincided with celebrations for the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution. According to an official, 'The test of the Hoveizeh cruise missile was carried out successfully at a range of 1,200 km and accurately hit the set target. The Hoveizeh, part of the Soumar family of cruise missiles unveiled in 2015, has a range of over 1,350 km (840 miles) and is designed to be used against ground targets. Cruise missiles with a range of over 1,000 km are classified as long range. The Hoveizeh missile needs a very short time for its preparedness and can fly at a low altitude. An undated video released by the defense ministry showed the Hoveizeh being test-fired from a mobile launcher. Hoveizeh is manufactured by the Aerospace Industries Organization and will be used by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force. Iran began ten days of celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution which deposed the monarch Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, replacing his government with an Islamic republic under the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
  • Macedonia: It is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe.Macedonia has signed an accord to join NATO to become the 30th member of the US-led alliance. At a formal signing of the NATO accession protocol, Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov hailed the moment as showing that the country will never walk alone once in the alliance. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the admittance of a new member highlighted that all European nations who meet the entrance criteria could join the regional alliance. However, Moscow has continually rejected NATO's position, saying that by taking in Balkan members, the alliance is undermining security in the region. The Macedonia-NATO accord follows a deal with Greece ending a 27-year-old dispute over Macedonia's name. The accord must now be ratified by allied governments.
  • Thailand: It is a Southeast Asian country. It's known for tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha.Siamese fighting fish has been named Thailand’s national aquatic animal. Known in the Western World as a betta fish, the underwater brawler is popular in home aquariums for its iridescent body and many-hued tail. According to an official statement, cabinet of Thailand greenlighted a proposal for the fighting fish to be the national fish, citing its historical and cultural significance. It brings up feelings of nostalgia for older generations in Thailand – which changed its name from Siam in 1939. They remember a time when the fish were traded and sparred in childhood games. Children looking for the fish today will mostly see it in pet shops.
Current Affairs[January 2019]
  • Iran Trade promotion plan: It is a new plan launched by three European powers namely UK, France and Germany to help companies trade with Iran.The move is said to defy US President Donald Trump with a bid to bypass US sanctions. The entity is key to the European Unions effort to save a 2015 nuclear accord with Iran after Trump withdrew the US. Whatever the economic impact, the push by the UK, France and Germany is another sign of European exasperation with the president. The initiative is designed to shield European companies keen to do business with Iran from U.S. sanctions that could result from dollar-based transactions. The Trump administration has deemed the channel an attempt to evade its maximum pressure campaign against Iran, while questioning whether it’ll work.
    Interim Budget 2019: Taxation Reforms
  • The direct tax collection has been increased substantially.
  • The number of returns filed have increased from 3.79 crore to 6.85 crore, showing 80 percent growth in tax base since four years.
  • In 2018-19, 99.54 percent of the income-tax returns were accepted as they were filed.
  • All returns will be processed in 24 hours and refund will be initiated at the earliest.
  • Cinema goers who were subjected to multiple taxes up to 50 percent are mostly paying much lower tax at 12 percent now.
  • Exemptions from GST for small businesses has been doubled from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 40 lakh.
  • Businesses comprising over 90 percent of GST payers will be allowed to file quarterly return soon.
  • The GST collection for January 2019 is estimated at Rs 1.03 lakh crore.
  • Abolished the duties on 36 capital goods. Indian Customs is introducing full digitization.
  • Individual tax payers with taxable income of up to Rs 5 lakh will get full tax rebate from now on.
  • Those earning Rs 6.5 lakh will not have to pay tax, if they invested in specified savings such as PF, PPF, etc.
  • However, the tax slabs will remain unchanged.
  • This move will benefit around 3 crore middle class tax payers.
  • For salaried persons, Standard Deduction is being raised from the current Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000.
  • The Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) on fixed deposits and postal deposits will be exempted for interest earned up to Rs 40,000 from Rs 10,000 currently.
  • The rent up to Rs 2.4 lakh will be exempted from TDS.
  • The benefit of capital gains of up to Rs 2 crore will be increased to investment on two residential houses.This benefit can be availed only once in a lifetime.
  • The benefit of the section 80IBA of Income Tax Act will be extended for one more year for availing of the affordable housing.
    Interim Budget 2019 : Underprivileged
  • 10 per cent additional reservation for the backward classes in general category in government jobs and education.
  • To provide food grains at affordable prices to the poor and middle classes, about Rs 1,70,000 crores were spent in the year 2018-19 which is almost double the amount of Rs 92,000 crores spent in the year 2013-14.
  • Allocating Rs 60,000 crore for MGNREGA. Additional amount would be provided if required.
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, construction of rural roads has been tripled. 15.80 lakh habitations out of a total of 17.84 lakh habitations have already been connected with pucca roads and work is going on to complete the rest very soon.
  • The yojana is being allocated Rs 19,000 crore in 2019-20 as against Rs 15,500 crore in 2018-19.
  • A total number of 1.53 crore houses have been built under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana in 2014-18.
  • Under the Pradhan Mantri Saubhagya Yojna, by March 2019 every household will get electricity connection.
  • Distributed 143 crore LED bulbs with the participation of private sector, which has resulted into a savings of approximately Rs 50,000 crore per year in electricity bills of poor and middle class families.
    Interim Budget 2019: Infrastructure
  • Around 15.8 lakh out of a total 17.84 lakh habitations have been connected with pucca roads under PMGSY. PMGSY allocated Rs 19,000 crore in 2019-20
  • The flagship programme of Sagarmala along the coastal areas of the country will develop ports for faster handling of import and export cargo.
  • Container freight movement has started on inland waterways from Kolkata to Varanasi.
  • The government also plans to introduce container cargo movement to the North East as well, by improving the navigation capacity of the Brahmaputra River.
  • All unmanned level crossings on broad gauge network have been completely eliminated.
  • First indigenously developed ‘Vande Bharat Express’ will give the Indian passengers world class experience with speed, service and safety.
  • Railways’ overall capital expenditure programme is of Rs 1, 58, 658 crore. The operating ratio is expected to improve from 98.4 per cent in 2017-18 to 96.2 per cent in 2018-19 and further to 95% in 2019-20 (BE). The operating ratio is expected to improve to 96.2 per cent in 18-19.
  • Macedonia : It is a country in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. Macedonia parliamentarians of the Republic of Macedonia voted to change their country’s name to the 'Republic of North Macedonia'. The move now awaits approval from Greece's Parliament. A longstanding dispute between the two countries led to the move, because a region of Greece bordering the Macedonian republic is also called Macedonia. The change of name, if cleared by Athens, would pave the way for the small republic to enter NATO and the European Union. It should be noted that Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and declared independence. It measures a little over 25,000 sq km, and has a population just over 2 million. Neighbouring Greece has objected to its name all through, suggesting it implied the Macedonian republic’s territorial aspirations over the northern region of Greece. For the Greeks, Macedonia is significant as the cradle of Alexander the Great’s empire. Insisting that the name apply only to the Greek region, the Greeks have been blocking the Macedonian republic’s entry to NATO and EU membership.
  • Human Rights TV Channel: The world’s first television channel dedicated to human rights was launched in London with a promise to deliver hidden stories ignored by mainstream media into people’s living rooms. The International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR) said its web-based channel would bring human rights issues to audiences in over 20 countries across Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
  • China: China is a populous nation in East Asia whose vast landscape encompasses grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and more than 14,000km of coastline. China passes law to make Islam more Chinese in nature. China has passed a law that seeks to ‘Sinicise’ Islam within five years and might do that with other four religions in the country, according to the state media. Under the all-powerful Chinese President Xi Jinping, China has heavily cracked down on religion, especially Islam practised by most Uighurs in the country's Xinjiang province who Beijing suspects of having separatist and extremist tendencies.
  • The International Whaling Commission (IWC): It is the global intergovernmental body charged with the conservation of whales and the management of whaling.Japan has withdrawn from the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and will resume commercial whaling from July. Making the announcement, a Japanese official said abandoning a decades-old campaign to persuade the commission to allow Japan to hunt whales commercially. But the announcement drew criticism from anti-whaling groups and others, with Australia saying it was "extremely disappointed" and New Zealand regretting the resumption of the "outdated and unnecessary" commercial killing of the ocean mammals.
  • Exchange list of nuclear installations: India and Pakistan have exchanged for the 28th consecutive year a list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral agreement that prohibits them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities. Besides, the two countries also exchanged details of civilian prisoners and fishermen lodged in each other’s jails. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said India handed over to Pakistan a list of 249 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 98 fishermen in its custody. Pakistan gave India lists of 54 civilian prisoners and 483 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or are believed-to-be-Indians. The two countries, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, exchanged the list of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations between India and Pakistan.
  • Asia Reassurance Initiative Act 2018: It is a new act signed by United States President Donald Trump. In a press release, Trump stated that several provisions of the Act, including Sections 101, 102, 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 208, 209, 210, 211, 213, 216, 306, 307, 406, and 410, intend to dictate the policy of the United States in external military and foreign affairs, or to require the executive branch to undertake certain diplomatic initiatives with international partners. Sections including 201 and 213 aimed to restrict the President's authority to control the personnel and material which he believes are necessary or advisable for the successful conduct of military operations. President Trump further stated that while he shares the objectives of the Congress with respect to maintaining the strength and security of the United States, his administration will treat these provisions consistent with the President's constitutional authority as the Commander in Chief. The Trump Administration will treat these provisions consistent with the President's constitutional authority to withhold information, the disclosure of which could impair national security, foreign relations, or the performance of the President's constitutional duties.

International Current Affairs 2018

Current Affairs[December 2018]
  • Hongyun project: It is project developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC), is designed to build a space-based communications network that would eventually provide broadband internet connectivity to users around the world. As part of the project, CASIC announced on Saturday that it had launched its first communication satellite on a Long March 11 carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. China has touted the project as its effort to rival Google and other international firms that have set up their own space-based communications network to provide fast internet connectivity to users in the world's most remote regions. Several top players in the industry, including Google, SpaceX, OneWeb, Telesat among others, are currently operating such low-cost, high-performance satellite networks to provide space-based communications and internet services.
  • China: It is a populous nation in East Asia whose vast landscape encompasses grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and more than 14,000km of coastline. After the suspicion of melamine in some milk consigments from China, the Indian government has further extended the ban on import of milk and its products, including chocolates, from China for four months till April 23 next year. According to an official notification, prohibition on import of milk, milk products (including chocolates, chocolate products, candies, confectionary food preparations with milk or milk solids as an ingredient) from China is extended for a further period of four months, i.e. till April 23, 2019, or until further orders," the DGFT said in a statement. The ban was first imposed in September 2008 and later extended from time to time. The last ban extension ended.
  • Palestine: It is a sovereign state in Western Asia claiming the West Bank and Gaza Strip with Jerusalem as the designated capital, although its administrative center is currently located in Ramallah. Palestine is planning to initiate an application to gain full state membership at the United Nations" in January 2019. According to an official annoucement, the country would file the application to upgrade Palestine's status from an observer state to a full-member state to the UN Security Council (UNSC) during his upcoming visit to New York next month, upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' instructions.
  • Ukraine: It is a large country in Eastern Europe known for its Orthodox churches, Black Sea coastline and forested mountains. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the legislation on ending the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russia. The treaty, which has been in place for about two decades, will be terminated on April 1, 2019 amid rising tensions between the two countries. The Ukrainian leader said that the non-extension of the deal is "a part of the Ukrainian strategy of reorientation towards Europe. The bill was approved by the Ukrainian parliament on Thursday, supported by 277 votes, far more than the 226 minimum required.
  • G20 Summit : It is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. India will be hosting G20 Summit in 2022. India will host the G20 Summit In 2022, when the country celebrates its 75th year of Independence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the ongoing meet of the international grouping in Argentina.
  • China: It is the most populous and biggest economy in the world. It has avast landscape encompasses grassland, desert, mountains, lakes, rivers and more than 14,000km of coastline. India and China have agreed and signed protocol regarding fish meal and fish oil. According to an official release, the Vice Minister, General Administration of Customs of China (GACC), Hu Wei, led a six-member delegation to India to discuss various issues of market access for different products like milk and milk products, agricultural products like soy meal, fruits and vegetables, tobacco and pharmaceutical products for which India has been seeking market access from China. Departments of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare and Health and Family Welfare and associated agencies participated in the meetingheld today in New Delhi. The meeting was coordinated by the Department of Commerce. Both the Indian and Chinese sides appreciated each other’s concerns and agreed to resolve the market access issues expeditiously to achieve the vision of the leaders of both the countries by promoting a more balanced trade. A protocol on Hygiene and Inspection requirements for the export of Fish Meal and Fish Oil from India to China was signed today. The signing of Protocol formalises the consensus reached by both sides on hygiene and inspection requirements of fish meal and fish oil to be exported from India to China, and will enable India to commence export of fish meal and fish oil to China.
Current Affairs[November 2018]
  • Australia: It is a country and continent surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide – are coastal. Its capital, Canberra, is inland. The country is known for its Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, a vast interior desert wilderness called the Outback, and unique animal species like kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses. has refused to sign UN Migration pact. Australia will not be joining the United Nations-backed global pact on migration. Annoucement was made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison citing concerns that the deal would be used to "undermine Australia's strong border protection laws and practices." The Morrison government's decision comes as countries from around the world move to formally adopt the "Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration" pact next month. The UN made the decision to come up with a global compact on migration in 2016, in the wake of the crisis in the Mediterranean, which has seen thousands of migrants die while attempting to cross into Europe. A draft of the agreement, which is not legally binding, was finalized in July after more than a year of work.
  • World Trade Organisation: It is an intergovernmental organization that regulates international trade. The WTO officially commenced on 1 January 1995 under the Marrakesh Agreement, signed by 124 nations on 15 April 1994, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which commenced in 1948. World Trade Organization has decided to setup a panel to solve the US tariff disputes. The decision comes after United States and China clashed at a World Trade Organization meeting with a U.S. envoy accusing Beijing of using the WTO to pursue “non-market” policies and a Chinese official saying it was Washington that was flouting the rulebook. U.S. President Donald Trump has outraged U.S. trading partners by erecting a tariff wall against imports of steel and aluminum - justified by U.S. national security concerns - and has hit Chinese goods with huge tariffs over accusations of stealing U.S. intellectual property.
  • World War I: A Statue commemorating role of Indian soldiers in World War I unveiled in France. For the first time in France A new statue commemorating the role of Indian soldiers in World War One was unveiled. The occasion was done to mark Armistice Day when the war ended in 1918. The seven-foot bronze statue in the town of Laventie commemorates over 4,700 soldiers and labourers from British India who lost their lives on the Western Front during World War I and have no known graves. The site in Laventie was chosen after the remains of two soldiers were identified as belonging to the 39th Royal Garhwal Rifles and reburied with military honours last year. Col (retd) Deepak Dahiya, who served for 23 years in the Indian Army and is now based in Paris, said this marks the commencement of a project to establish 57 such statues near all cemeteries where Indian soldiers lie buried in France.
  • United Kingdom: It is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, is an island nation in northwestern Europe. England – birthplace of Shakespeare and The Beatles – is home to the capital, London, a globally influential centre of finance and culture. India and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for collaboration in cancer research, the Ministry of Science and Technology. The pact between the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) for the India-UK Cancer Research Initiative was signed here for collaboration for the next five years. Both CRUK and DBT will invest five million pounds each in this five-year pilot project, and seek further investment from other potential funding partners. The India-UK Cancer Research Initiative will identify a core set of research challenges that address issues of affordability, prevention and care of cancer patients by bringing together leading Indian and UK experts in clinical research, demographic research, new technologies and physical sciences, the statement said. "The initiative will provide funding to develop new research alliances and undertake impactful research to enable significant progress against cancer outcomes," the statement added.
  • The United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) :It is the postal agency of the United Nations. It issues postage stamps and postal stationery, denominated in United States dollars for the United Nations offices in New York, in Swiss francs for the offices in Geneva and in euros (formerly schillings) for the offices in Vienna. Postage rates charged are identical to those of the host nation. The United Nations Postal Administration issued a special event sheet on October 19 to commemorate the festival of Diwali. India on Wednesday thanked the UN Postal Administration for issuing special postal stamps to commemorate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. “The struggle between Good & Evil happens everyday @UN. Thank you @UNStamps for portraying our common quest for the triumph of Good over Evil in your 1st set of Diwali stamps on the occasion of the auspicious Festival of Lights,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin tweeted. The sheet in the denomination of USD 1.15 contains ten stamps and tabs featuring festive lights and the symbolic lamps known as diyas. The background of the sheet features the United Nations Headquarters building illuminated with the message of “Happy Diwali” to celebrate the spirit of the festival. “Diwali, also known as Deepawali is the joyous and popular festival of lights, which is celebrated in India and by followers of many faiths across the world,” the UN agency had said in its description accompanying information about the stamps.
  • Korea: It is a country located in a region in East Asia; since 1948 it has been divided between two distinct sovereign states: North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and neighbours Japan to the east by the Korea Strait and the Sea of Japan. The Ministry of Tourism signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Government for the Republic of Korea for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism in New Delhi today. K J Alphons, Union Tourism Minister and Do Jong-hwan Korean, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sports, Republic of Korea signed the MoU and officials from the Ministry and their counterparts from the Korean side were also present during the signing ceremony. The MoU was signed by two parties desiring to strengthen and further develop the established relationship for strengthening cooperation in the field of Tourism. The main objectives of the Memorandum of Understanding are, to expand bilateral cooperation in tourism sector, increase Exchange of information and data related to tourism, encourage cooperation between tourism stakeholders including Hotels and Tour Operators, establish exchange programmes for cooperation in Human Resources Development, encourage Investment in the Tourism and Hospitality sectors, exchange visits of Tour Operators, Media, Opinion Makers for promotion of two way tourism, exchange experience in the areas of promotion, marketing destination development and management, encourage participation in travel fairs/exhibitions in each other’s country, promote safe, honorable and sustainable tourism.
  • Seychelles: It is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It's home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves, as well as rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises. The Republic of Seychelles has launched the world’s first sovereign blue bond — a financial instrument designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects. The initiative was launched at supporting the expansion of marine protected areas‚ improved governance of priority fisheries and the development of the Seychelles’ blue economy. Making the annoucement, Vincent Meriton‚ vice-president of Seychelles said, 'We are honoured to be the first nation to pioneer such a novel financing instrument. The blue bond‚ which is part of an initiative that combines public and private investment to mobilise resources for empowering local communities and businesses‚ will greatly assist Seychelles in achieving a transition to sustainable fisheries and safeguarding our oceans while we sustainably develop our blue economy. Marine resources are critical to the Seychelles’ economic growth. After tourism‚ the fisheries sector is the country’s most important industry‚ contributing significantly to annual GDP and employing 17% of the population. Fish products make up around 95% of domestic exports.
Current Affairs[October 2018]
  • Ethiopia: It is a rugged, landlocked country split by the Great Rift Valley. With archaeological finds dating back more than 3 million years, it’s a place of ancient culture. Ethiopia's parliament has approved senior diplomat Sahle-Work Zewde as the country's first female president. Sahle-Work is currently the present U.N. under-secretary general and special representative of the secretary general to the African Union. She replaces Mulatu Teshome Wirtu, who tendered his resignation to parliament. The president's post is a ceremonial one in Ethiopia. The prime minister, who is the head of state, holds executive power.
  • China: Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated China’s latest mega-infrastructure project which is the world’s longest sea crossing. The 34.2-mile bridge and tunnel that have been almost a decade in the making for the first time connect the semi-autonomous cities of Hong Kong and Macau to the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai by road. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge spans the mouth of the Pearl River and significantly cuts the commuting time between the three cities. The previously four-hour drive between Zhuhai and Hong Kong will now take 45 minutes. One section of the crossing dives underwater into a 4.2 mile tunnel that creates a channel above for large cargo ship containers to pass through. The project came in over budget -- with Hong Kong alone investing $15 billion in it -- and delayed, as it was originally slate to open in 2016.
  • The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty : It is a 1987 arms control agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. The INF treaty was signed between the then US president Ronald Reagan and his USSR counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles. It eliminates all nuclear and conventional missiles, as well as their launchers, with ranges of 500-1,000 kilometers or 310-620 miles (short-range) and 1,000-5,500 km or 620-3,420 miles (intermediate-range). US will be pulling out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty that it had signed with Russia during the Cold War and alleged that Moscow has "violated" the agreement. Speaking to reporters, US President Donald Trump said, 'We're going to terminate the agreement and we're going to pull out. We'll have to develop those weapons. We are going to terminate the agreement and then we are going to develop the weapons, unless Russia and China agree to a new deal. We'll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let's really get smart and let's none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia's doing it and if China's doing it, and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable. Russia has violated the agreement. They have been violating it for many years," Trump said.
  • Myanmar: It is a Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 ethnic groups, bordering India, Bangladesh, China, Laos and Thailand. India and Myanmar have inked a crucial MoU for the appointment of a private operator of the Sittwe Port that will boost connectivity and help in creating local job opportunities as the two sides discussed bilateral issues as well as topics of common interest, including developments in the strife-torn Rakhine state. The MoU was signed by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale after his meetings with Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Union Minister of Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung in Nay Pyi Taw. Gokhale called on Suu Kyi and discussed issues related to bilateral cooperation as well as topics of common interest, including developments in the strife-torn Rakhine state.
  • Internal security cooperation deal : It is a new deal signed between India and China for promoting internal cooperation. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh co-chaired the first India-China High-Level meeting on Bilateral Security Cooperation with State Councilor and Minister of Public Security of the People's Republic of China, Zhao Kezhi in Delhi. During the meeting, the two sides discussed issues of mutual interest, including bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation, and welcomed increased cooperation between India and China in the area of security cooperation. An Agreement on Security Cooperation between the Ministry of Home Affairs of India and the Ministry of Public Security of China was also signed by the two ministers. The Agreement will further strengthen and consolidate discussions and cooperation in the areas of counter-terrorism, organized crimes, drug control and other such relevant areas.
  • Pakistan: Pakistan plans to send first manned space mission in 2022. Pakistan's decision to send man to space was taken during Pakistan's federal cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The cabinet approved the plan of sending an astronaut to space for the first time in 2022 with China's help. For the mission, an agreement between Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and a Chinese company has already been signed. Pakistan and China already have robust defence ties and Pakistan is one of the top buyers of Chinese military hardware. Earlier in 2018, Pakistan had launched two satellites into orbit, using a Chinese launch vehicle. The satellites were launched aboard a Chinese Long March (LM-2C) rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre located at the Gobi desert, China. The satellites included a remote sensing satellite (PRSS1), a dual-purpose Earth observational and optical satellite, and PAK-TES-1A. Developed by Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (SUPARCO), the PAK-TES-1A satellite was launched to enhance satellite manufacture capabilities in the country that would help end Pakistan's dependency on commercial satellites for information related to weather, environment and agriculture. The satellites had to be transported to China as Pakistan lacks the infrastructure to launch objects to space.
  • United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC): It is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world. India was elected to the United Nations' top human rights body for a period of three years beginning January 1, 2019. India got around 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, the highest number of votes among all candidates. The 193-member UN General Assembly held elections for new members to the UN Human Rights Council. The 18 new members were elected by absolute majority through a secret ballot. Countries needed a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.
  • Azerbaijan: It is a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. India-Azerbaijan have signed protocol and have exchanged views on current economic situation and reviewed the current status of bilateral trade, investment and their cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, science and technology. They emphasised to further strengthen and expand their cooperation in trade and investment, transportation, energy and hydro-carbons, SMEs, agriculture, food safety and environmental protection, tourism, culture, health and pharmaceuticals, space technology, education and scientific research, chemicals and petrochemicals and mining. Trade turnover between India and Azerbaijan in January-August 2018 was USD 657.9 million. Both sides felt that bilateral trade was far below the potential and there was a need to step up the cooperation to enlarge the trade basket and increase bilateral trade and investment. Both sides agreed to take measures to enhance trade relations and expand business relations between the two countries.
  • Uzbekistan: It is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia. The sovereign state is a secular, unitary constitutional republic, comprising 12 provinces, one autonomous republic, and a capital city. India and Uzbekistan inked 17 agreements including in the areas of defence, space, health and agriculture. The two countries signed pacts for collaboration in the field of military education and for cooperation between the Office of the Security Council under the President of Uzbekistan and the National Security Council Secretariat of India. They also signed an agreement on cooperation in combating illicit drug trafficking. A pact for cooperation in outer space exploration for peaceful purposes was also signed. Agreements were signed for visa-free travel of diplomatic passport holders for programme of cooperation between the ministries of foreign affairs of Uzbekistan and India in 2019-2020. Two agreements in the sectors of innovation, and health and medical science were also signed. Business relationships between the two countries will be promoted through the India-Uzbekistan Business Council, for which a pact was inked. The two countries also entered into a pact on cooperation in the pharma sector. An MoU was inked between Khokimiat of Samarkand City and the Municipal Corporation of Agra. Another pact was signed between the Khokimiyat of Andijan Region and the Gujarat government.
  • World Health Organisation (WHO): It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It has launched the first global guidelines on sanitation and health even as it pitched for higher investments and policy shifts to achieve the goal of universal sanitation coverage by 2032. According to an official statement from the WHO, 'By adopting WHO’s new guidelines, countries can significantly reduce the 829, 000 annual diarrhoeal deaths due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. For every US $1 invested in sanitation, WHO estimates a nearly six-fold return as measured by lower health costs, increased productivity and fewer premature deaths'.
  • Operation Samudra Maitri: It is rescue operation launched by India to assist the survivors earthquake and consequent tsunami in Central Sulawesi province of Indonesia. According to an External Affairs Ministry statement, two IAF aircraft — a C-130J and a C-17 — carrying medical personnel and relief material flew for humanitarian assistance. The C-130J aircraft is carrying a medical team on board along with tents and equipment to set up a field hospital. The C-17 aircraft is carrying medicines, generators, tents and water to provide immediate assistance. Indian naval ships INS Tir, INS Sujatha and INS Shardul have also been mobilised for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. These ships are likely to reach Central Sulawesi on 6 October. The operation was launched after a telephonic conversation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on 1 October, and following Indonesia's acceptance of international aid'. At least 1,347 people were killed in the devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island. The number of dead was expected to climb, officials said.
Current Affairs[September 2018]
  • United Nations: It is an intergovernmental organization tasked to promote international co-operation and to create and maintain international order. India has contributed a whopping USD 1 million for the installation of solar panels on the roof of the imposing UN building at the world body�s headquarters here. The contribution will help reduce carbon footprint and promote sustainable energy, India�s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin said in a tweet. He said that India is the �first responder� to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres� call for climate action. �India funds solar project @UN Hqrs to reduce carbon footprint & promote sustainable energy,� Akbaruddin said, referring to India�s contribution of USD 1 million to the UN Headquarters� Solar Project, in which solar panels will be installed on the roof of the imposing UN headquarters.
  • Bangladesh: It is a South Asian country marked by lush greenery and many waterways. The Indian government�s efforts to enhance connectivity between the North-Eastern region and rest of the country has received a shot in the arm after the Bangladeshi cabinet approved a proposed agreement with India enabling India to use the Chattogram and Mongla ports for goods movement to the North-East. Bangladesh Cabinet has approved use of its Chattogram & Mongla ports for Indian shipments to north-eastern states of India. Priority will be given according to the capacity of the ports. Bangladesh will also collect customs duties & transport costs according to the GATT principles.
  • India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline Project: It is a pipeline project jointly inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. The Pipeline Project will connect Siliguri in West Bengal in India and Parbatipur in Dinajpur district of Bangladesh. The Rs 346 crore project will be completed in 30 months and the capacity of the pipeline will be one million metric tonnes per annum. Both countries had entered into an agreement for the pipeline construction in April this year during Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale�s visit to Dhaka. The project will boost the friendship between India and Bangladesh and the pipeline will help fulfill energy needs of Bangladesh at cheaper rates.
  • Pakistan: It is a country in South Asia and on crossroads of East Asia, West Asia and Central Asia. Pakistan currently has around 140 to 150 nuclear warheads and the stockpile is expected to increase to 220 to 250 by next decade, according to a latest report by authors keeping a track of the country's nukes. Hans M Kristensen, Robert S Norris and Julia Diamond said in the report 'Pakistani nuclear forces 2018' said, the current estimate of 140 to 150 nuclear weapons exceeds the projection made by the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1999 that Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020. Pakistan continues to expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems.
  • Bangladesh: It is a South Asian country marked by lush greenery and many waterways. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina have jointly inaugurated multiple projects in Bangladesh. The projects which were announced through video conferencing include supply of 500 MW additional power supply from India to Bangladesh through Baharampur - Bheramara interconnection was unveiled by Prime Minister Modi, Bangladeshi counterpart Hasina and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The second project -- construction work of the Bangladesh part of Akhaura-Agartala railway link was inaugurated by Indian and Bangladeshi Prime Ministers, and Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb. The third project on the rehabilitation of Kulaura-Shahbazpur section of Bangladesh Railways was jointly inaugurated by the Prime Minister of both the countries.
  • BIMSTEC: Bay of Bengal initiative for multi-sectoral technical and economic cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional group of seven countries in South Asia and South East Asia lying in littoral and adjacent areas of Bay of Bengal constituting contiguous regional unity. It was established on 6 June 1997 through Bangkok Declaration. It is headquartered in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Its member countries are India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka from South Asia and Myanmar, Thailand from South East Asia. They are collectively home to around 1.5 billion people which constitute around 22% of global population. BIMSTEC�s main objective is to promote technological and economic cooperation among south Asian and south-east Asian countries along coast of the Bay of Bengal. The grouping is sector-driven cooperative organization, started in 2006 with six sector including trade, technology, energy, transport, tourism and fisheries. In 2008, it was expanded to embrace eight more sectors including agriculture, public health, poverty alleviation, counter-terrorism, environment, culture, people to people contact and climate change.
  • Milex 18: It is a theme of the exercise is counter-terrorism in semi-urban terrain. Its main aim is to promote strategic alignment among member-states and to share best practices in the area of counter-terrorism. The exercise will include training in operations like search-and-cordon operations, search and destroy and handling and neutralisation of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) among other things. Each participating member country will be represented by platoon sized contingents including around 30 soldiers (including five officers, 25 Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and personnel of other ranks). As part of this exercise, conclave of Army chiefs of all seven member-states is also being planned. In it, army chiefs will debate challenge of terrorism and transnational crime, which is major concern among all states and discuss ways to promote collective cooperation. Through this exercise India is trying to achieve in cooperative defense diplomacy. It is also looking forward to initiate process of sharing counter-terrorism strategies among armies of member nations in the region. India also wants to start a dialogue, sharing of procedures, thoughts, processes and certainly strategies to deal with terrorism collectively in region. BIMSTEC countries had held disaster management exercise in 2017 in New Delhi, but this will be first military exercise of the grouping.
  • Bulgaria: It is a Balkan nation with diverse terrain encompassing Black Sea coastline, a mountainous interior and rivers, including the Danube. India and Bulgaria have signed four MoUs in fields of Civil Nuclear cooperation, investment, Tourism and establishment of Hindi chair at Sofia University. The deals were signed after President Ramnath Kovind and his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev held talks in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria. Both countries also signed program of Cooperation on science and Technology. These agreements were signed after President Ram Nath Kovind visited Bulgaria on the second leg of his three-nation visit which includes Cyprus, Czech Republic to Europe to continue India high-level engagements with the European countries. It should be noted that President Kovind was fifth Indian President to visit Bulgaria and first in 15 years.
  • Indus Water Treaty (IWT): It is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan (1960). India and Pakistan have agreed to undertake the Indus Waters Treaty mandated tours by their Commissioners in the Indus basin on both sides to resolve issues on the various hydroelectric projects, including the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai in Jammu and Kashmir. After the conclusion of the two-day high-level bilateral talks on the Indus Waters Treaty in Lahore, the first official engagement between India and Pakistan since Imran Khan became Prime Minister on August 18, the External Affairs Ministry said deliberations were held on further strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) for matters under the 1960 Treaty.
  • Cyprus: It is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean and the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean. India and Cyprus have signed two agreements on combating money laundering and cooperation in the field of environment. According to an official release, the two agreements were signed after wide-ranging talks between President Ram Nath Kovind and his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades in Nicosia (capital of Cyprus). President Kovind is visiting the Cyprus on the first leg of his three-nation visit to Europe including Bulgaria and Czech Republic to continue India�s high-level engagements with European countries. The MoU on combating money laundering was signed between Financial Intelligence Unit, India, and Unit for Combating Money Laundering of Cyprus. This agreement will further strengthen institutional framework to facilitate investment cross-flows. Cyprus is the eighth largest foreign investor in India with a cumulative foreign direct investment of about $9 billion in areas such as financial leasing, stock exchange, auto manufacture, manufacturing industries, real estate, cargo handling, construction, shipping and logistics. The Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) between both the countries was revised in 2016.
Current Affairs[August 2018]
  • India-Germany: India and Germany sign agreement on economic and tech cooperation. The agreement was signed between German Ambassador Dr Martin Ney and Joint Secretary Sameer Kumar Khare (Department for Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance) on financial and technical cooperation within the framework of the Indo-German development cooperation. As part of the agreement, Germany has pledged to spend 1,055 million euros (around Rs 8,500 crore) for development cooperation in India. According to the release issued by the German Embassy, the committed funds would focus on "sustainable urban development" like infrastructure, urban mobility and climate resilience that go along the "Smart Cities" initiative. "The cleaning of Ganga will be supported in the future also," the release said.
  • Pakistan- Russia: Pakistan army to receive training at Russian military institutes. Pakistan and Russia have signed an agreement to allow Pakistani troops to receive training at Russian military training institutes, a move aimed at boosting their bilateral defence ties. The agreement was signed at the conclusion of the first meeting of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC), according to Pakistan’s defence ministry. The Russian side was led by Deputy Defence Minister Col Gen. Alexander V. Fomin who visited Pakistan from August 6-7 to attend the first session of Russia-Pakistan Joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC). Lt. Gen (retd.) Zamir ul Hassan Shah, Secretary Defence, led the Pakistani delegation during the JMCC meeting. Prior to the inaugural meeting, held on Tuesday at the Ministry of Defence in Rawalpindi, the visiting dignitary called on the defence secretary and the defence minister.
  • Iran : Iran is an Islamic republic on the Persian (Arabian) Gulf with historical sites dating to the Persian Empire. Iran has unveiled its first domestically manufactured fighter jet named ‘Kowsar’. The Kowsar can be used for "short aerial support missions" and is equipped with systems that "promote precision targeting. Iran is currently under economic and diplomatic pressure from a raft of sanctions re-imposed by the United States earlier this month, and the unveiling could be seen as a bid to show self-sufficiency and military might in the face of that pressure.
  • World Bank: World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to countries of the world for capital project. The World Bank has priced the world’s first public bond created and managed using only blockchain in a A$100 million ($73.16 million) deal designed to test how the technology might improve decades-old bond sales practices. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is the sole manager of the deal. The two-year bonds had priced to yield 2.251% and would settle 28 August. The prototype deal, dubbed a “Bondi” bond - standing for Blockchain Operated New Debt Instrument as well as a reference to Australia’s most famous beach — is being viewed as an initial step in moving bond sales away from manual processes towards faster and cheaper automation.
  • Sweden: It is a Scandinavian nation with thousands of coastal islands and inland lakes, along with vast boreal forests and glaciated mountains. Its principal cities, eastern capital Stockholm and southwestern Gothenburg and Malmö, are all coastal. Sweden has released a handbook of its "feminist foreign policy" for rights groups and foreign governments, showcasing lessons from the nation's flagship approach to promote women's rights globally. The manual was published on the Swedish government's website. It is derived from four years of work to place gender equality at the heart of the country's international agenda. It has been led by Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom since its inception in 2014. Sweden began its feminist foreign policy in response to the discrimination and systematic subordination that still marks the daily lives of countless women and girls around the world. The manual stated that while gender equality was "an object in itself," it was "essential" in achieving more general government objectives, like peace, security and sustainable development.
  • Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA): It is a series of Acts of the Parliament of India that grant special powers to the Indian Armed Forces in what each act terms "disturbed areas". The Assam Government has issued a notification declaring the entire State as “a disturbed area” and extending the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) for six more months as a precautionary measure to maintain order during the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) update process. The final NRC is likely to be published by the end of the year.
  • PM-STIAC: It is a new advisory committee formed to advise the Prime Minister of India relating to policy matters related to science, technology and innovation. It will be chaired by K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government. Among the key 9 permanent members are VK Saraswat, Member NITI Aayog and former DG of DRDO; A S Kiran Kumar, ex-Chairman, ISRO; Baba Kalyani, MD of Bharat Forge, Sangamitra Bandopadhyay, Director, Indian Statistical Institute, Manjul Bhargava, Princeton University, US & Field Medal winner in Mathematics; Madhuri Kanitkar of Armed Forces Medical College; Ajay Sood, IISc; and Subhash Kak, Oklahoma University, US.
  • Wind power: It is the use of air flow through wind turbines to provide the mechanical power to turn Induction generators for producing electricity. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy said that 126 MW wind power capacity, part of country's first inter-state transmission system (ISTS) auction, is commissioned in Bhuj. State run Solar Energy Corporation of India Ltd (SECI) had conducted India's first auction of wind power projects in February 2017 in which tariff of Rs 3.46 was discovered, which was much lower than feed in tariffs in vogue those days. This was a 1,000 MW bid for projects to be connected on ISTS (inter-state transmission system) wherein power generated from one state (renewable resource rich state) could be transmitted to other renewable deficient states. Mytrah, Inox, Ostro, Green Infa and Adani were winners under this auction.
  • Drones: It is an unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system; which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two. The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced the Drone Regulations 1.0 at a press conference here today. These regulations will enable the safe, commercial usage of drones starting December 1, 2018. Drone Regulations 1.0 are intended to enable visual line-of-sight daytime-only and a maximum of 400 ft altitude operations. Air space has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission).
  • Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE): They are those companies in which the direct holding of the Central Government or other CPSEs is 51% or more. Steel CPSE have unveiled the corporate sports policy for Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs). The policy will provide a framework for promotion of sports by Steel Ministry CPSEs. It will strive to groom medal aspirants for the Olympic Games. CPSEs will discharge their responsibility through infrastructural and institutional support for talent spotting, scholarships, training and coaching.
  • Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE): It is a Board of Education for public and private schools, under the Union Government of India. The board will help Kerala students get their education certificates back in case they might have lost them in the floods through its digital repository. CBSE has 1,300 schools in Kerala affiliated to it. The students of these schools can retrieve their mark-sheets, migration certificate, and pass certificate from CBSE''s digital academic repository called ''Parinam Manjusha''. This academic repository has been integrated with DigiLocker, a government storehouse of documents. The CBSE will re-send login-id and password of Parinam Manjusha/DigiLocker pertaining to students of the year 2016-2018 on their mobile numbers provided with Class X or XII data.
Current Affairs[July 2018]
  • Pakistan Election 2018: Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan’s party was declared victory in a divisive general election in Pakistan. Speaking in a televised speeh, Imran Khan said God has given me a chance to come to power to implement that ideology which I started 22 years ago. He was ready to lead the nuclear-armed nation despite a long delay in ballot counting and allegations of vote-rigging from his main opponents. Throughout the speech Khan who was a fierce critic of US policy in the region, called for "mutually beneficial" ties with Pakistan’s on-off ally the United States, and offered an olive branch to arch-foe India, saying the two nations should resolve their long-simmering dispute over Kashmir.
  • Ebola : It is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebolaviruses. A new Ebola virus has been found in bats in Sierra Leone, two years after the end of an outbreak that killed over 11 000 across West Africa. Though the findings are not yet confirmed, that the new Bombali species of the virus - which researchers say could be transmitted to humans - can develop into the deadly Ebola disease.
Current Affairs[June 2018]
  • Burqa ban: Denmark has banned burqa and niqab and banned the wearing of face veils in public. Under the new law, police and other law enforcement authorities can demand women to remove their veils or order them to leave public areas. Justice Minister Soren Pape Poulsen has said that officers would in practice fine them and ask them ‘to go home’. Fines would range from 1,000 Danish crowns ($160) for a first offence to 10,000 crowns for a fourth violation. France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the German state of Bavaria have all imposed some restrictions on full-face veils in public places.
  • India and Norway:
    India and Norway have signed MoU to extend health cooperation would extend from 2018 to 2020. This cooperation between India and Norway is aligned with the development goals of Government of India as outlined in its National Health Policy 2017 for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The cooperation shall also focus on global health issues of common interest. The deal will include maternal, new-born, child health. The cooperation will continue to focus on innovative, catalytic and strategic support, and stride in taking the Indian Government’s Intensification Plan for Accelerated Maternal and Child Survival in India.
  • US-Korea Historic Summit:
    US President Donald Trump and North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un signed a "very comprehensive" document after their historic summit. The US president said that the process of denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula will begin ‘very soon’ and the North Korean leader promised to leave the past behind. Speaking to the media persons, US President Donald Trump said, ‘We're signing a very comprehensive document, and we've had a really great time together, a great relationship. We're starting that process (denuclearisation)... very quickly. We'll meet again, we'll meet many times. Kim is a very talented man who loves his country very much’.
Current Affairs[May 2018]
    • 10 year residency visa: It is a unique scheme announced by UAE to retain international investors and exceptional talents including professionals and students. The system will grant investors and talents up to 10-year residency visas for specialists in medical, scientific, research and technical fields, as well as for all scientists and innovators. Five-year residency visas will be for students studying in the UAE, and 10-year visas for exceptional students. The new decision will also review the current residency system to extend the residency time for the dependent students after completing their university studies. This will give them the opportunity to study their practical options in the future.
    • Nepal: Nepal is a landlocked country in South Asia located mainly in the Himalayas. Nepal has become the first country in south-east Asia to eliminate trachoma, world's leading cause of preventable blindness of infectious origin. The Nepal government, through the ministry of water supply and sanitation, provided incentives to local communities and districts to build and maintain latrines, measures that were crucial to improve sanitation and reduce the disease carrying flies. The national trachoma programme in that country also collaborated with the ministry of education to include a module on trachoma in the school curriculum.
    • Samagra Shiksha : It is a program that unifies learning from the pre-school to class 12 levels and encapsulates elements of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamk Shiksha Abhiyan and teacher education. The objectives of the scheme include, provision of quality education, enhancing learning outcomes of students, bridging social and gender gaps in school education, and promoting vocationalisation of education. It is also includes, strengthening teacher education institutions like SCERTs and Diets to improve quality of teachers. Annual grant of Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000 per school for strengthening of libraries. The Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan aims to treat education holistically as a continuum from pre-school to class 12. It is evidence of the govt's commitment to provide quality education to equip all children with varied skills and knowledge essential for their development.
    • United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF ): It is a United Nations program headquartered in New York City that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. UNICEF today launched a data visualisation app to offer user-friendly visual representation of complex analytics of the education scenario in India. The app has been made with technical inputs from the UNICEF, in collaboration with the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA) and the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). It uses the UDISE (Unified District Information System for Education), the NAS (National Assessment survey) and demographic data and can be used as a visual tool by policy makers, senior government officials, academia, and researchers to address gaps and monitor programmes in the field of education.
    • World Health Organization (WHO): It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published its first 'essential diagnostics list', a catalogue of tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases. The step was taken to address the problem of people's inability to access diagnostic services, thus failing to receive the correct treatment.
    • United Nations Security Council (UNSC): It is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations charged with the maintenance of international peace and security around the world. India and Guatemala have agreed to support each other’s candidature for Non-Permanent Membership in the United Nations Security Council. While, Guatemala will support India’s candidature for UNSC membership for 2021-22 New Delhi will do so for 2031-32 for Guatemala. The final decision was taken after several rounds talks Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu held with the President, Vice President and Parliament Speaker of Guatemala in the capital Guatemala City on May 7, 2018. Kick starting India’s high level outreach to the Latin American countries.
    • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA): It is an agreement between China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union (EU) and Iran. It was an interim deal, in which Iran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some sanctions. United States President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States of America from the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA deal with Iran. Iran accepted strict limits on its nuclear programme in return for an escape from the sanctions that grew up around its economy over a decade prior to the accord. Under the deal, Iran unplugged two-thirds of its centrifuges, shipped out 98% of its enriched uranium and filled its plutonium production reactor with concrete.
    • Bangabandhu-1: It is the first Bangladeshi geostationary communications satellite. It was launched on May 11, 2018.The project is being implemented by Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and was the first payload launched by a Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket. It is named after the founding father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. It is designed and manufactured by Thales Alenia Space and its launch provider is SpaceX. The total cost of the satellite was projected to be 248 million US dollars.
    • India-Pakistan defense exercise: India and Pakistan will be taking part in first ever joint military exercise under Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). It is the first time in the history India and Pakistan are set to take part in joint military drills. This will happen as part of the Peace Mission exercises to be held in Russia in September, along with a number of other partner countries. India's participation in the Peace Mission 2018 exercises was announced by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her speech to the 15th SCO Defence Ministers Meeting in Beijing. She however made no direct reference to Pakistan in her speech, either in regard to the exercises or to the continued support for terrorists. This will be the first time that the nuclear-armed South Asian nations will take part in exercises together. Both countries had become full members of the SCO last year. The drill will feature all SCO member states, including Russia and China.
    • Ireland removes abortion ban: Ireland voted to end the abortion ban. Voters voted to liberalise the highly restrictive abortion laws by two-to-one, thus, allowing the government to bring in the new legislation by the end of the year. In 1995, a public vote was conducted resulting in the legalization of divorce. Later Ireland became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote; and a year after Leo Varadkar, a gay politician and son of an Indian immigrant, became Prime Minister. Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union. Malta, a country that bans the abortion under all circumstances, is the only member of the union with tighter legislation.
    • World Health Organisation (WHO): It is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948 and is currently headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. It has adopted a Digital health resolution initiated by India and was unanimously adopted by the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva. India received widespread praise for its leadership on this forward-looking agenda. The resolution paves the path for WHO to establish a global strategy on digital health identifying priority areas including where WHO should focus its efforts and engages member states to optimize their health systems in sync with the global digital health agenda.
    • India and Indonesia: India and Indonesia have signed 15 new agreements. The agreements include cooperation in the field of defence, space, science and technology, railways and health. Prime Minister Modi, who arrived in Jakarta last night on his first-ever official visit to Indonesia, was accorded a red carpet welcome on his arrival at the Merdeka palace, one of the presidential palaces in Indonesia. The two leaders discussed areas of strategic cooperation, ways towards ensuring better economic ties, closer cultural relations as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.
    Current Affairs[April 2018]
    • MoU between India and UK on Illegal Migrants: The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to the MoU between India and the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland on the return of Illegal Migrants. The MoU will facilitate that the Visa Free Agreement for holders of Diplomatic passports as well as liberalization of UK Visa Regime for those who are travelling to the UK legally, after conclusion of the MoU. It will ensure the return of persons who have no lawful basis to be in the territory of the other Party after verification of nationality to its satisfaction. It will help in streamlining the procedure of return of nationals who are caught to be staying illegally, belonging to the other party in a specified time-frame.
    • Turkey: Turkey has launched its first nuclear power plant in the Mediterranean Mersin region, which will be built at the cost of 20 billion dollar. The nuclear power plant Titled ‘Akkuyu nuclear power plant project’, will come online in 2023, the 100th anniversary of modern Turkey's founding, and be completed entirely in 2026. Once complete the power station will provide 10 percent of the electricity needs of Turkey, which has few energy resources of its own. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin launched the construction of the nuclear power plant.
    • Saudi Arabia: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has opened its first public movie theatre, after over 35 years of prohibition for religious reasons. According to an official release from information ministry, AMC Entertainment has been granted the first licence to operate cinemas, and the company is expected to open 40 cinemas across 15 Saudi cities over the next five years. A special screening of Marvel superhero film ‘Black Panther’ was held in Riyadh, which was attended by Saudi Culture and Information Minister Awwad Alawwad along with Saudi royalty, celebrities and guest filmmakers. The first public screening will be held on April 20, the tickets for which went on sale on April 19. The gulf nation would be opening more cinema theatres, roughly 350 cinemas and 2,500 screens, by 2030. The development follows passing of a resolution on December 11, 2017 that lifted the decades-old ban on providing licenses to commercial movie theatres.
    Current Affairs[March 2018]
    • Vladimir Putin :
      Vladimir Putin was re-elected as Russian President. Putin, who has ruled the country as either president or prime minister since 1999, got more than 76% of the vote. The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race. The scale of victory - which had been widely predicted - appears to be a marked increase in his share of the vote from 2012, when he won 64%. Mr Putin's nearest competitor, millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin, received about 12%. The race also included Ksenia Sobchak, a former reality TV host, and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky - they got less than 2% and about 6% respectively. Mr Putin's campaign team said it was an "incredible victory".
    Current Affairs[February 2018]
    • FATF - Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an inter-governmental body to combat money laundering and terror financing among other financial crimes, expressing the hope that it will uphold its objectives. India has congratulated China for being elected Vice President of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said 'Congratulations to China on its election as Vice President of Financial Action Task Force at the FATF plenary meeting on February 23. We remain hopeful that China would uphold and support the objectives and standards of FATF in a balanced, objective, impartial and holistic way. China's election to the FATF assumes significance as Pakistan is set to be put in the watchdog's grey list, which puts countries under the scanner for not implementing the body's objectives, in June this year.

    • Saudi Arabia -The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced entry of women to enlist in the military. According to authorities, interested female candidates have given time to apply for positions with the rank of soldier in the provinces of Riyadh, Mecca, al-Qassim and Medina. Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor's office said it would also begin recruiting women investigators for the first time. The kingdom has also opened 140 positions for women at airports and border crossings, a historic first that the government said drew 107,000 female applicants. It should be noted that Saudi women last month were given permission to attend football matches and to open their own businesses without the consent of their male relatives.

    • India- Iran - India and Iran have signed nine pacts, the resultant of which will allow India to lease part of the strategic Chabahar port, near the mouth of the Gulf of Oman. A key focus of the discussions was infrastructure, particularly Iran's Chabahar port. India has committed to invest $500 million in developing the port. During Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 2016 visit to Iran, the countries signed a commercial contract envisaging development and operation of the port's two terminals and five berths. India badly wants the port developed, believing it will help India gain access to war-torn Afghanistan, where India is involved in rebuilding efforts. India also needs a route for its companies to take into energy-rich Central Asia. Pakistan, India's hostile neighbor to the northwest, does not allow overland access. Among the nine agreements signed lease between Iran's Port and Maritime Organization and India Ports Global Limited. The deal allows the Indian company to take over and run a part of Chabahar port's multi-purpose and container terminal for 18 months. Besides giving India access to Central Asia, the port will also help India counter China's regional influence. China is currently developing Gwadar port, in Pakistan, which also gives China a way into Africa.

    • Saudi Arabia-In a surprising move, women in Saudi Arabia have been given the go-ahead to start businesses without the permission of a male guardian. Earlier in the past women needed a guardian's approval and had to visit a notary to document the founding of a company, from Sunday a new system will carry out all start-up procedures electronically, with no special permissions required. The move is part of a shift inside a strongly conservative kingdom to offer more freedom to women and more broadly, to reshape Saudi culture along more secular, modern lines. In keeping with the spirit of modernisation, the announcement was made via Twitter. Saudi women make up just a fraction of the labour force in the country, but their participation in the economy is rising fast. In July 2017, the country's Ministry of Labour and Social Development announced that women accounted for 30 per cent of the private sector workforce - a rise of 130 per cent over the previous four years

    • UNICEF- A new study by UNICEF has revealed that nearly 600,000 newborn die within 28 days of their birth in India every year. The study also revealed that a quarter of global neonatal deaths take place in India each year, also showed that the country has remarkably reduced the under-five mortality rate. The first 28 days of life - the neonatal period - are the most vulnerable time for a child's survival. And children face the highest risk of dying in their first month of life, at a global rate of 19 deaths per 1,000 live births. According to the report, India's neonatal mortality rate (deaths per 1,000 live births) is 25.4 and is ranked at number 12 among 52 'low middle-income countries' in terms of risk for newborns. India's ranking, though, is better than that of Pakistan's, the country with the worst newborn mortality rate. The report covered 184 countries and India has been ranked 31, keeping the world's seventh largest economy below 153 countries who have better survival rates for their newborns. A year earlier, India was the 28th worst country among 184 nations in terms of neonatal mortality.

    • Global corruption perception index- The index developed by Transparency International, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, placed India at the 81st place. In the 2016, India was in the 79th place among 176 countries. The index uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. India has been ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index for 2017, released by Transparency International, which named the country among the 'worst offenders' in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region.

    • Petro -Venezuela become first sovereign country to officially launch its own crypto-currency called Petro. The currency is backed by oil, gas, gold and diamond reserves to circumvent US-led financial sanctions. Aiming to combat most severe economic collapses of modern times, the beleaguered administration of President Nicolas Maduro announced it had begun a presale of virtual currency backed by the nation's vast petroleum reserves. The government, which had announced plans for the new digital currency late last year, said the initiative was a response to a financial crisis marked by a profound devaluation of the national currency, the bolivar, and quadruple-digit inflation.

    • UN Peacekeeping mission -It is a peacekeeping programme initiated by the United Nations is a role held by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations as "a unique and dynamic instrument developed by the organization as a way to help countries torn by conflict to create the conditions for lasting peace. In an effort to support the programme India is sending around 2,300 Army personnel for South Sudan to join the UN peace keeping mission in the war-torn African country. The army personnel, joining the UN mission, are from Infantry battalion of Garhwal Rifles regiment. Indian unit will be in operational control of the sensitive Jonglei state. According to official figures, India is the largest cumulative troop contributor, having provided almost 200,000 troops in nearly 50 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions over the past six decades, including 13 of the current 16 missions. Last year, a total of 7,606 Indian peacekeepers were deployed in UN missions.

    • UN Development Partnership Fund -The India-UN Development Partnership Fund is a dedicated facility within the United Nations Fund for South-South Cooperation established in 2017. It is supported and led by the Government of the Republic of India, managed by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, and implemented in collaboration with the United Nations system. India has pledged an additional $100 million towards the UN partnership fund, significantly scaling up its support to sustainable development projects across the developing world. The India-UN development partnership fund was set up earlier this year as a partnership between India and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC). Anjani Kumar, counsellor at the Permanent Mission of India to the UN, announced the multi-year contribution at the 2017 UN Pledging Conference for Development Activities on Monday. This contribution would be in addition to $10.582 million India is contributing to various other UN programmes, Kumar said. 'I am happy to announce that India has now decided to significantly scale up the contribution to the fund through a multi-year contribution of $100 million,' Kumar said on behalf of India. 'India believes that the UN should have the necessary resources to finance its activities, in an appropriate and balanced manner,' he said.

    • Science and Technology

    • World's smallest satellite - Japan successfully launched on the world's smallest satellite-carrying rocket following a failed attempt in January last year. According to a release from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, 'The rocket about the size of a utility pole, measuring 10 meters in length and 50 centimeters in diameter, lifted off from the Uchinoura Space Center in Kagoshima Prefecture and delivered its payload to its intended orbit'. The No. 5 vehicle of the SS-520 series carried a microsatellite weighing about 3 kilograms developed by the University of Tokyo to collect imagery of the Earth's surface. The launch was aimed at verifying JAXA's technology used to launch small rockets made with commercially available components at lower cost amid growing global demand for microsatellites. The agency used components found in home electronics and smartphones for the rocket. JAXA launched the No. 4 vehicle on Jan. 15 last year, but terminated its flight shortly after liftoff due to a communications problem. The agency found that vibrations during liftoff caused a short circuit, leading to a loss of power in the data transmitter. For Saturday's launch, the agency made more than 40 improvements to prevent a recurrence.

    Current Affairs[January 2018]
    • Ashgabat Agreement -The Ashgabat Agreement is a Multimodal transport agreement between Oman, Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan for creating an international transport and transit corridor facilitating transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Persian Gulf. India has joined the Ashgabat agreement, which envisages setting up of an international transport and transit corridor linking central Asia with the Persian Gulf to significantly ramp up trade and investment. According to official sources, India's accession to the agreement will come into force on Saturday(February 3, 2018) . After approval of the Cabinet, India had deposited the instrument of accession with Turkmenistan in April 2016.

    • Delhi Declaration -It is declaration made by the ASEAN member states to mark the 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-India Dialogue Relations. Leader of the states declared to further strengthen and deepen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit, across the whole spectrum of political-security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation, through further strengthening of relevant institutional mechanisms and broadening of the network between government institutions, parliamentarians, business circles, scientists, academicians, think-tanks, media, youth and other stakeholders, for the building of a peaceful, harmonious, caring and sharing community in our regions. Continue to exert efforts and cooperate towards the full, effective and timely implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the ASEAN-India Partnership for Peace, Progress and Shared Prosperity (2016-2020). Further enhance high-level engagement and cooperation within the existing framework of the ASEAN-India Dialogue Partnership and ASEAN-led mechanisms, such as the ASEAN-India Summit, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the Post Ministerial Conference with India (PMC+1), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) Plus, and other ASEAN-India ministerial/sectoral mechanisms.

    • Global Centre for Cyber Security -It is new organisation created to counter emerging cyber security threats and help connect leaders from business and government to collaborate on various security issues. The organisation was formed by World Economic Forum (WEF) will be fully operational in March 2018. The cyber agency will act as a sort of independent, multinational cyber threat information sharing platform for companies to improve digital security writ large. To begin with, it will reach out to key industry players and G-20 countries to make this platform a success for dialogue and real-time action on cyber threats. The Global Centre for Cybersecurity has already gained the support of multiple prominent businesses and law enforcement organizations, including British telecommunications giant BT Group, U.S. microchip maker Qualcomm, Russian financial institution Sberbank and international crime fighting agency Interpol.

    • NASA - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the executive branch of the US government. Scientists from NASA have shown interest about a new thermal spray coating technology used for gas turbine engine in spacecraft developed by a Rajasthan-based researcher named Dr Satish Tailor. Expressing his interest in the research, James L. Smialek, a scientist from NASA wrote to Dr Tailor after it was published in the journal Ceramics International and Thermal Spray Bulletin. Dr Tailor while working at MEC as a chief scientist, Research and Development had developed the controlled segmented Yttria-Stabilised Zirconia (YSZ)-Plasma sprayed coating technology, which according to him could reduce the thermal spray coating cost by almost 50%. Besides, vertical cracks (segmentation) in the coating are beneficial for gas turbine engine application used in spacecraft. Currently researchers are developing such cracks through very expensive processes (in several crore) and cracks are generated during the coating deposition process, and crack generation is not controllable.

    • Parker Solar Probe -it is the name of NASA's mission which is scheduled for launch in 2018 to explore the Sun's outer atmosphere. NASA's historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun's atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions - and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.
    • Perihelion -it is the name of the phenomenon when the Earth is the closet to the sun. At 11.05 am on January 3rd 2018, the earth was at the closest point to the sun in its annual elliptical orbit, at a distance of 14, 70, 97, 237 km approximately. Perihelion is an important event for research and educational purposes although the public cannot observe it. Commonly it is believed that the distance of the earth from the sun decides the season or temperature on the earth. But this is not true. The axial tilt (approx. 23.5 degrees) of the earth on its axis while revolving around the Sun regulates seasons on the earth with one of the hemispheres facing away or towards the Sun. So, while the earth is closest to Sun this time in January, it is winter in India and countries in Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere. On July 6, the earth will be at 'Aphelion' at 15, 20, 95,571 km from the sun, i.e. it will be at the farthest point from the sun.
    • Bomb Cyclone -it is the name of the massive winter storm which is hammered the eastern coast of the US, bringing snow, ice, flooding, and strong winds. This term is being used by meteorologists to indicate a mid-latitude cyclone that intensifies rapidly. A bomb cyclone happens when atmospheric pressure in the middle of the storm drops at least 24 millibars over 24 hours, quickly increasing in intensity. The lower the pressure, the stronger the storm. Deep drops in barometric pressure occur when a region of warm air meets one of cold air. The air starts to move and the rotation of the earth creates a cyclonic effect. The direction is counter clockwise in the Northern hemisphere leading to winds that come out of the northeast.
    • GAVI -it is an international organisation - a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world's poorest countries. Gavi brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private philanthropists. It was created in 2000.
    • Arabic, Chinese, English -these along with French, Russian and Spanish are the six official languages of the UN. These languages are used at meetings of various UN organs, particularly the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, and the Security Council. Each representative of a country may speak in any one of these six languages, or may speak in any language and provide interpretation into one of the six official languages. The UN provides simultaneous interpretation from the official language into the other five official languages, via the United Nations Interpretation Service. The six official languages are also used for the dissemination of official documents. Until a document is available in all six official languages, it is not published. Generally, the texts in each of the six languages are equally authoritative. The six official languages spoken at the UN are the first or second language of 2.8 billion people on the planet, less than half of the world population. The six languages are official languages in more than half the nations in the world. This was in the news as India is pushing forward its proposal to include Hindi as one of the official languages of the United Nations. The ministry of external affairs is currently reviewing a draft advocacy paper to present the Indian case with regard to introducing Hindi in the UN.
    Current Affairs[July 2017]
    • Some of the reasons for several Arab countries breaking their diplomatic ties with Qatar-Growing tension between Qatar and its neighbours, Accusation that Qatar is backing Islamists movements in the Middle East, Important influencing role played by Doha-funded Al-Jazeera news channel, Publication of story questioning fate of Donald Trump's presidency by a Qatar news agency are some of the reasons for several Arab countries breaking their diplomatic ties with Qatar.
    • MSCI-EM-it stands for The Morgan Stanley Capital International Index which captures large and midcap stocks across 23 emerging markets like Brazil, Chile, India, Colombia, Russia, South Africa and China and tracks $2 trillion worth of assets globally. The index serves as a representation of each country's market as it covers up to 85% of the free-float-adjusted market capitalistion. It is closely tracked by global investors and a country's inclusion in the index can attract foreign money into it.
    • 19- the number of individual countries which are members of G20. It was in the news recently regarding the recent G20 summit which was held at Hamburg, Germany. The G20 is an international grouping of 20 of the world's biggest economies, comprising 19 individual countries and the European Union. Founded in 1999, the body aims to ensure global financial stability by promoting high-level discussions and review of policies.
    • Green, Amber & Red -these are the common references to the boxes as categorized in terminology of World Trade Organisation(WTO).In WTO terminology, subsidies in general are identified by "Boxes" which are given the colours of traffic lights: green (permitted), amber (slow down - i.e. be reduced), red (forbidden). The Agriculture Agreement has no Red Box, although domestic support exceeding the reduction commitment levels in the Amber Box is prohibited; and there is a Blue Box for subsidies that are tied to programmes that limit production. There are also exemptions for developing countries (sometimes called an "S & D Box"). The agricultural package of the Uruguay Round has fundamentally changed the way domestic support in favour of agricultural producers was treated under the GATT 1947. A key objective has been to discipline and reduce domestic support while at the same time leaving great scope for governments to design domestic agricultural policies in the face of, and in response to, the wide variety of the specific circumstances in individual countries and individual agricultural sectors. The main conceptual consideration is that there are basically two categories of domestic support - support with no, or minimal, distortive effect on trade on the one hand (often referred to as "Green Box" measures) and trade-distorting support on the other hand (often referred to as "Amber Box" measures). For example, government provided agricultural research or training is considered to be of the former type, while government buying-in at a guaranteed price ("market price support") falls into the latter category. Under the Agreement on Agriculture, all domestic support in favour of agricultural producers is subject to rules. In addition, the aggregate monetary value of Amber Box measures is, with certain exceptions, subject to reduction commitments as specified in the schedule of each WTO Member providing such support..
    Current Affairs[June 2017]
    • European Union Commission-the group whose President Jean-Claude Juncker recently urged its member nations to boost their defence spending. EU members are spending an average of 1.3% of GDP on defence much less than the United States, Russia and China. The EU unveiled a new defence fund recently to provide a total of Euro 500million in EU money in 2019 and 2020 to help buy and develop military equipment.
    • 8th June 2017-this day was recently celebrated as World Ocean Day.World Oceans Day is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. This site serves as the central coordinating platform for World Oceans Day, with free resources and ideas for everyone - no matter where you live - to help expand the reach and impact of World Oceans Day on June 8 and year-round. Overall theme for World Oceans Day 2017 is: Our Oceans, Our Futurewhile thefocus ofConservation action is Encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter for a healthier ocean and a better future
    Current Affairs[May 2017]
    • NROL-76-the name of secretive US government payload which was blasted off by Space X recently. This is the first military launch for the Californian-based aerospace company headed by billionaire tycoon Elon Musk. The payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, which makes and operates satellites for the United States, roared into the sky atop a Falcon 9 rocket recently.
    • OBOR -it stands for One Belt One Road, is the initiative by China with 50 projects which is aimed at putting existing surplus capital & finished products to better use. OBOR also known as the New Silk Road initiative,is designed to build an intercontinental infrastructure, expand connectivity to Europe, Central Asia, South Asia and South East Asia through both land and sea.
    • C919-the name of China�s first domestically built large passenger jet by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China(COMAC). The C919, China�s answer to the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320, signals the country�s entry into global aviation market as a strong competitor.
    Current Affairs[April 2017]
    • Bumble bees -it became the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain federal protection when it was added to the government's list of endangered and threatened species recently. Bumble bees are key pollinators of crops such as blueberries and cranberries, and are almost the only insect pollinator in the United States, according to the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. The population of the bee, named for the reddish blotch on its abdomen, is believed to have declined by more than 90% since the late 1990s owing to disease, pesticide, climate change and habitat loss.
    • Evolocumab -the name of the new powerful drug against heart disease as per the report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It can prevent heart attack and strokes by cutting bad cholesterol to unprecedented levels. It has been designed to target a protein in the liver with the name PCSK9.
    • European Union -they celebrated 60th anniversary of their founding treaty at Rome recently. In their solemn declaration ending the summit, the 27 leaders sought to end paralysis that has gripped the bloc on several issues and enshrined the notion that some member states will be able to move ahead on some issues while others remain on sidelines.
    • 12 -the number of new types of clouds have been recognized for the first time by the International cloud Atlas. The atlas, which dates back to the 19th century, is the global reference book for observing and identifying clouds. Last revised in 1987, it now has a new fully-digital edition. New entries include the wave like asperitas, the roll-like volutus, and contrails, clouds formed from the vapour trail of aeroplanes. The world Meteorological Organisation(WMO) publishes the atlas and also has the final say on the contents, including the addition of "new" clouds and cloud features.
    • GJ 1132b-the name of the 'super-Earth' planet which has been recently found by scientists and for the first time has its own hazy atmosphere. The discovery represents a major leap forward in the hunt for a planet like our own that could support alien life. The planet, which is 39 light years from us has a hazy atmosphere that could have a 'water world' beneath it.
    • 7th April 2017-this day was recently celebrated as World Health Day.World Health Day, celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization, provides us with a unique opportunity to mobilize action around a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.Mental health is integral to our well-being and as important as being physically healthy. The growing incidence of mental health issues is a reflection of the reality that confronts us today. That is why the theme for this year's World Health Day campaign is depression.
    • 2.6 billion metrictonnes-the amount of cereal crop harvested by human beings in the world-the largest ever in history-in 2016-17, according to the latest estimates of the UN affiliated Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO). This includes all-time records for wheat, rice and coarse grains. As a result, the year is ending with the largest ever global stock of food grains in history, some 682 million tonnes. India's cereal production for 2016-17 is also estimated to be nearly 250 million tones, crossing the record of about 246 million tones set in 2013-14.
    • Enceladus- a small icy moon of Saturn that is a billion miles, farther from Sun than earth, has nearly all the ingredients for supporting life, as per statement made by NASA recently, pointing as evidence to surface plumes observed by its Cassini mission. Scientists have determined that nearly 98% of the gas in the plume is water and 1% is hydrogen and the rest is a mixture of other molecules including carbon dioxide, methane and ammonia.
    • Moabosaurus-the new species of herbivorous dinosaurs discovered by scientists in United States that lived 125 million years ago. The 32-foot long Moabosaurus belongs to a group known as sauropods, which includes giants such as Brontosaurus and Brachiosaurus, who had long necks and pillar-like legs. Moabosaurus is most closely related to species found in Span and Tanzania which tells researchers that during its time, there were still physical connections between Europe, Africa and North America.
    • GBU-43-the name of the massive bomb, which was dropped by the United States in eastern Afghanistan recently against a series of caves used by Islamic State militants. It is the largest non-nuclear bomb US has ever used in combat. It was the first time the United States has used this size of bomb in a conflict. It was dropped from a MC-130 aircraft in the Achin district of Nangarhar province close to the border with Pakistan.
    • H-1B-the visa programme, the most sought by Indian IT firms and professionals, whose rules were tightened by the signing of the executive order by United States President Donald Trump.Acting on his 'Buy American, Hire American' pledge, Trump signed the order that calls for tightening the rules of the programme at the Kenosha, Wisconsin, headquarters of tool maker Snap-on Inc recently. According to the executive order signed by Trump, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labour, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.
    • 946mn-the number of people who are estimated to practice open defecation in 2015 as the World Bank Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals. 500mn of these people were accounted by India, Nepal and Bangladesh. As per the report 90% of the world's people now have access to improved water resources and 2.1 bn people gained access to improved sanitation facilities in the past 25 years.
    • 22 April 2017 this was recently celebrated as World Earth Day. Each year, Earth Day�April 22�marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Earth Day 1970 gave voice to that emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page. The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California.
    • 3 percent-the economic growth rate which is targeted to be achieved by UNITED States with the support of tax reforms and regulatory relief as per the recent announcement by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. He called the IMF's forecast for US growth "a little conservative", saying that the country's economy could grow by 3 per cent or higher with the support of tax reforms and regulatory relief. The IMF forecast the US economy to grow by 2.3 per cent this year and 2.5 per cent next year.
    • EUSO-SPB-the name of the football-stadium-sized, super pressure balloon which was successfully launched by NASA from New Zealand. This will help detect cosmic rays from beyond our galaxy as they penetrate the Earth's atmosphere. The 18.8-million cubic-foot super pressure balloon lifted off NASA's new launch pad adjacent to Wanaka Airport carrying a suspended payload of 2.495 kg. The mission will run for 100 or more days floating at 33.5 km in the southern -hemisphere mid-latitude band.
    • Project Owl- the name of the project started by Google to curb fake news in its search. It gives consumers two new ways to report what they perceive as problems in the search suits. Google ha incorporated a way by users can tell the company to tell Google if you encounter something wrong or objectionable. The tool now comes with little lines that says 'report inappropriate predictions.' If a new user clicks on the line, a box pops up that lets the user tell Google that the predictions are hateful or violent and so on.
    Current Affairs[March 2017]
    • Whanganui River - the river of New Zealand which recently granted legal status as a �Person.� The river gained its own identity with all the corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person, after a 170-year battle. The river is a sacred and revered waterway to New Zealand�s Maori Iwi people and its interests will now be represented by an indigenous group.
    • LHAASO - it stands for the Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory which is being set up about 4,410 metres above sea level in the mountainous Sichuan province of China which will attempt to search for the origin of high energy cosmic rays. The observatory aims to study the evolution of the universe and high energy celestial bodies. The construction of the LHAASO is set for completion in January 2021. It will be a key frontier project for cosmic ray research internationally. Cosmic rays are particles that originate in outer space and are accelerated to energies higher than those that can be achieved in even the largest man-made particle accelerators. LHAASO will be mankind�s first attempt to hunt for the highest energy Gamma ray, which is the burst of radiation thought to be produced alongside cosmic rays in our galaxy.
    • 22nd March - it was celebrated as World Water Day recently. World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. India has 14 principal acquifer systems and 42 major acquifers. Alluvium is an acquifer that covers 31% of the country and is predominant in U.P, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and Rajasthan.
    • Kea parrots - the parrots from New Zealand which have a human-like infectious laughter-a �play call� that puts other birds around them into a playful mood as per the new research from the Messerli Research Institute in Australia. The findings make Kea the first known non-mammal to have such an �emotionally contagious� vocalization, joiningthe ranks of humans, rats and chimpanzees.
    • Article 50 - the article of the Lisbon Treaty I is the one under which Britain will have to officially notify of its decision to leave the European Union. It will begin the two-year exit process under Brexit after officially issuing the notification under this Act.
    • CAL - it stands for Cold Atom Laboratory, which NASA is planning to create at the International Space Station (ISS) to provide new insights into gravity and dark matter. Inside that box, lasers, a vacuum chamber and an electromagnetic knife will be used to cancel out energy of gas particles, slowing them until they are almost motionless. CAL instruments are designed to freeze gas atoms to a mere billionth of a degree above absolute zero- more than 100 million times colder than depths of space. The suite of instrument is set to ride to space in August 2017 aboard the SpaceXCRS-12.
    • Qatar Airways - the airlines which is planning to launch India's first foreign-owned airline. Qatar Airways is planning to tie up with Qatar government's investment arm, Qatar Investment Authority to launch this airline which will be first fully foreign-owned airline after the Indian government allowed 100%FDI in this sector in June 2016. While the foreign carriers will be required to have up to 49% stake, they can get a foreign partner, like sovereign wealth fund or an institutional investor, and not look for an Indian partner to put in the remaining 51%.
    • Jupiter - the planet whose moon Europa will be probed by NASA's 'Europa Clipper' which is set to be launched in 2020. The ultimate aim of Europa Clipper is to determine if Europa is habitable, possessing all three of the ingredients necessary for life: liquid water, chemical ingredients and energy sources sufficient to enable biology. Europa has long been a high priority for exploration because it holds a salty liquid water ocean beneath its icy crust.
    • Intel - they will buy Israeli car tech firm Mobileye for more than $15 billion (14 billion euros), in a deal signalling the US computer chip giant's commitment to technology for self-driving vehicles. The deal worth approximately $15.3 billion was the largest ever cross-border acquisition for an Israeli tech firm. It comes with Intel and Mobileye previously collaborating with German automaker BMW to develop self-driving cars. Intel and Mobileye expect to combine to become a global leader in "autonomous driving" that could provide the technology at a lower cost.
    • 12 - the number of families of bacteria that are present today that pose the greatest threat to human health according to the WHO which recently published the first-ever list of antibiotic-resistant "priority pathogens", to guide and promote research and development of new antibiotics. The Geneva-based World Health Organisation (WHO) said that list was drawn up as part of its efforts to address growing global resistance to antimicrobial medicines.According to the global health body, the list is divided into three categories according to the urgency of need for new antibiotics: critical, high and medium priority."The most critical group of all includes multi-drug resistant bacteria that pose a particular threat in hospitals, nursing homes, and among patients whose care requires devices such as ventilators and blood catheters. They include Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas and various Enterobacteriaceae (including Klebsiella, E. coli, Serratia, and Proteus). The second tier which includes antibiotics of high priority includes for Enterococcus faecium, which is vancomycin-resistant, Staphylococcus aureus which is methicillin-resistant, Helicobacter pylori which is clarithromycin-resistant, Campylobacter spp which is fluoroquinolone-resistant, Salmonellae which is fluoroquinolone-resistant, Neisseria gonorrhoeae which is cephalosporin and fluoroquinolone-resistant. The third tier which includes medium priority includes Streptococcus pneumoniae which is penicillin-non-susceptible, Haemophilusinfluenzae, which is ampicillin-resistant and Shigellaspp which is fluoroquinolone-resistant.
    • Sun - the celestial body to which the NASA plans to send its first robotic spacecraft next year that is slated to get within six million kilometers of the blazing star to probe its atmosphere. The unmanned spacecraft Solar Probe Plus which will travel to the sun will have special heat tubes called thermal radiators that will radiate heat that permeates the heat shield to open space, 'so that it does not go to the instruments'. The mission will hopefully unveil why the surface of the Sun called the photosphere is not hot as its atmosphere called the corona.
    • FORPHEUS - it stands for Future Omron Robotics Technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmoniseda Utomation with Sinictheoretics, is the name of the first robot table tennis tutor developed in Japan which made its entry into the Guinness World Records recently. It is easily able to act as a coach thanks to cutting-edge vision and motion sensors it can use to gauge movement during a match.
    • Trappist-1 - the name of the planetary system that has been discovered by NASA recently. A NASA telescope has detected the first known system of seven earth-size planets around a single star. This exoplanet system, is named for the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. The planets have no real names. They're only known by letters, 'b' through 'h'. 'A' refers to the star itself.
    • 0.637 seconds - the new record set by a robot in solving the Rubik's cube with 21 moves in Germany which is a new Guinness World Record. The Sub 1 Reloaded beat a previous record of 0.887 seconds which was achieved by an earlier version of the same machine using a different processor. 4.904 seconds is the official record for a human set by a 14-year old boy in 2015.
    • 6 - the number of countries from which the migrant's entry will be banned in United States as per the new executive order signed by US President Donald Trump. The new order, aimed at getting around the legal smack down that spiked the first presidential decree on the subject, drops Iraq from the list of seven countries that includes Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. US Green card holders will be exempted. About the six countries identified for the travel ban, the new order said that each of these countries is a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones. Any of these circumstances diminishes the foreign government's willingness or ability to share or validate important information about individuals seeking to travel to the United States.
    Current Affairs[February 2017]
    • TPP - it stands for Trans Pacific Partnership is the mega trade agreement forum from which America withdrew itself on the first day of office of new President, Donald Trump. TPP started by Barack Obama comprised 12 Pacific Rim countries including the three North American states, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, four members of Asean and two Latin American countries. Its goal was to write the rules of economic engagement covering trade, investment protection, governance, dispute settlement, environment, labour standards.
    • Metallic hydrogen - the new most valuable material on the planet. Nearly a century after it was theorised, Harvard scientists claim to have succeeded in creating the rarest and potentially one of the most valuable materials on the planet -- atomic metallic hydrogen. In addition to helping scientists answer fundamental questions about the nature of matter, the material is theorised to have a wide range of applications, including as a room-temperature superconductor. To create it, researchers squeezed a tiny hydrogen sample at 495 gigapascal, or more than 71.7 million pounds-per-square inch -- greater than the pressure at the centre of the Earth. At those extreme pressures, solid molecular hydrogen breaks down and the tightly bound molecules dissociate to transform into atomic hydrogen, which is a metal. While the research offers an important new window into understanding the general properties of hydrogen, it also offers tantalising hints at potentially revolutionary new materials. The material could also provide major improvements in energy production and storage - because superconductors have zero resistance energy could be stored by maintaining currents in superconducting coils, and then be used when needed. Though it has the potential to transform life on Earth, metallic hydrogen could also play a key role in helping humans explore the far reaches of space, as the most powerful rocket propellant yet discovered, researchers said. The research was published in the journal Science.
    • SARA - it stands for Socially-Aware Robot Assistant is a computer screen that interacts with someone with a camera in front and asks the questions. It can look at the persons face, eyebrows and from his smile detect his mood and have conservation with him. It was used at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland where it surprised the participants by understanding their words and non-verbal behavior to build a relationship.
    • Qatar Airways - the recently launched the world's longest scheduled commercial services with its inaugural flight from Doha to Auckland. The Boeing 777 flight will take 16 hours and 20 minutes, pass over 10 time zones, five countries and travel 14,535 km before reaching Auckland in New Zealand.
    • Erithacus - the name of new species of new shark with rabbit-like buckteeth and a bulky head which was discovered recently. It is the 50th 'ghost' shark species known to science reported in 'Live Science' magazine. At nearly one metre in length, the new creature is the second-largest species of ghost shark ever discovered.
    • TPS - it stands for The Micra Transcatheter, recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA),is a new type of heart device that provides patients with the most advanced pacing technology at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker and is the only leadless approved for use in the US. This world's smallest pacemaker, which is about as big as a large vitamin capsule and provides the most advanced pacing technology, has been successfully implanted for the first time in a patient in the US.
    • Granddad - the name of longest living fish in a zoological setting- a lungfish which was euthanized recently. The lungfish was acquired by the Shedd aquarium in Chicago from Australia in 1993. The exact age was unknown but it was believed to be in his mid-90s and was euthanized after losing interest in food and showing signs of organ failure. Lungfish are native to the Mary and Burnett rivers in Queensland, Australia and have a single primitive lung and are among the few fish that can breathe air.
    • The Smurf characters - the cartoon character which has been brought on board by UN to encourage children, young people and adults to make the world happier, more peaceful, equitable and healthy, via a campaign. The Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign is designed to encourage everyone to learn about and support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which were agreed on by all 193 member-countries of the UN in 2015.
    Current Affairs[January 2017]
    • Doomsday Clock - the symbolic instrument designed by scientists informing the public when the Earth is facing imminent disaster. It was in the news recently after scientists moved its minute hand from three to two-and-a-half minutes before the final hour, the closest it has been since 1953. The Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reset the clock to its closest time to midnight in 64 years recently, citing threats such as nuclear weapons, climate change and Donald Trump's election as US president. The bulletin was founded by scientists who helped develop the United States' first atomic weapons. It's Science and Security Board, which includes Nobel laureates, nuclear and climate experts, meets biannually to discuss where the clock's hands should fall in light of world events. The clock was last set this close to midnight in 1953, when the USSR tested the hydrogen bomb, marking the start of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. The clock had then read two minutes to midnight.
    • Bumblebee - the first bee species in the US to be declared endangered after suffering a dramatic population decline over the past 20 years. Bumblebees are social insects that form colonies with a single queen. The colonies are smaller than those of honeybees, growing to as few as 50 individuals in a nest. Bumblebees have round bodies covered in soft hair (long branched setae) called pile, making them appears and feel fuzzy.
    • Xiao Nan - the robot who recently made its debut as a journalist. The robot journalist made its debut in a Chinese daily recently with a 300-characters-long article written in just a second. The article, published in the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily, focused on the Spring Festival travel rush. Its author took only a second to finish writing the piece and is able to write both short stories and longer reports, according to Wan Xiaojun, a professor at Peking University who leads the team studying and developing such robots.
    • Republican Party - the party to one which Donald Trump belongs to who took over as the 45th President of America. He was administered oath by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
    • Mesentery - the name of the new organ which has been discovered hiding in plain sight inside the human body. It was previously thought to be just a few fragmented structures in the digestive system. It has been discovered by J Calvin Coffey, a researcher at the University Hospital Limerick, Ireland.
    • La La Land' -film which swept away the Golden Globe Awards 2017, which was held in Beverly Hills on January 8 this year. The Damien Chazelle-directed film won the top honours and created Golden Globe history with seven wins. 'La La Land' won the Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical). The film's leading actor Ryan Gosling won the award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) for his act as a jazz pianist. Emma Stone walked away with the Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical) for her portrayal of an aspiring actress in 'La La Land'. Damien Chazelle too bagged the Best Director and Best Screenplay Award for the love story. The film also won in the Original Score Department with the award going to Justin Hurwitz. The film's song 'City Of Stars' won the award for Original Song.
    • Tintin - the fictional detective character which was in the news recently after it completed 88 years. Tintin created by renowned Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, better known as Herge, appeared for the first time on January 10,1929 in the comic strip called Le Petit Vingtieme.
    • Amazon - the E-commerce giant which was in the news recently after it pulled off from its site the sale of doormats with Indian flag. They also expressed regret for hurting Indian sensibilities, a day after Sushma Swaraj, India's foreign minister threatened to deny visas to its officials if it didn't take doormats depicting the Indian flag off its site.
    • Qatar Airways - the recently launched the world's longest scheduled commercial services with its inaugural flight from Doha to Auckland. The Boeing 777 flight will take 16 hours and 20 minutes, pass over 10 time zones, five countries and travel 14,535 km before reaching Auckland in New Zealand.
    • Erithacus - the name of new species of new shark with rabbit-like buckteeth and a bulky head which was discovered recently. It is the 50th 'ghost' shark species known to science reported in 'Live Science' magazine. At nearly one metre in length, the new creature is the second-largest species of ghost shark ever discovered.
    • TPS - it stands for The Micra Transcatheter, recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA),is a new type of heart device that provides patients with the most advanced pacing technology at one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker and is the only leadless approved for use in the US. This world's smallest pacemaker, which is about as big as a large vitamin capsule and provides the most advanced pacing technology, has been successfully implanted for the first time in a patient in the US.
    Current Affairs[December 2016]
    • Cucumber - the plant whose seedlings were germinated under microgravity conditions of the International Space Station (ISS) by scientists to understand how plants sense gravity and stimulate their own growth. Cucumbers features specialized protuberances, or pegs, whose formation is regulated by gravity. These pegs form during the pant's early growth stage to help the seedlings emerge from their hard seed coat and anchor the developing plant in the soil while its roots form. In August last year, NASA astronauts harvested their own 'outredgeous' lettuce aboard the ISS. In January this year, astronauts grew the first flower in space, a zinnia. Growing tomato plants on the space station is planned by NASA in 2017.
    • SolarStratos - the name of the solar powered two-seater aircraft with a mission to fly some 78,000 feet above the earth in 2018, which was recently unveiled in Payerne in Switzerland. The team behind the SolarStratos plans to breach the stratosphere and if successful it will fly higher than any plane before it and shows that renewable energy can not only match fossil fuels but surpass them. The pilot will be subjected to frigid temperatures and extremely low pressures during the flight.
    • The World Bank - they recently cancelled a $100 million loan to Pakistan for a natural gas efficiency project due to no progress in achieving the development objectives and a lack of interest on the part of the gas distribution company. The project, which was to be carried out by Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) in its distribution areas in Karachi, interior Sindh and Balochistan, was aimed at enhancing the supply of natural gas by reducing physical and commercial losses of gas in the pipeline system. A World Bank report said the failure of the project led to its closure and, as a result, the levels of unaccounted-for gas (UFG) remained high while continuing to drain the precious natural resource. The project was aimed at enhancing the supply of natural gas by reducing physical and commercial losses of gas in the pipeline system.
    • Apple - the company which recently announced its decision to partner with Goldwind, the world's largest wind turbine maker, in projects in china that will provide 285MW of wind power. This marks Apple's foray into wind power and is its largest clean-energy project to date.
    • Giraffe - the tallest land animal, which as now at risk of extinction according to biologists. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 1985 the number of giraffes was anywhere between 1, 51,000-1, 63,000 which has declined to 97,562 in 2015. Because the giraffe population has shrunk nearly 40% in just 30 years, scientists have put it on the official watch list of threatened and endangered species worldwide calling it "vulnerable".
    • Gotthard Base Tunnel of Switzerland - the world's longest and deepest rail tunnel which was officially opened recently after almost two decades of construction work, carrying passengers deep under the Swiss Alps from Zurich to Luganao.57.5km is the length of the Gotthard Base Tunnel which was built in 17 years with an estimated expenditure of Rs.12bn Swiss Francs (Rs795 billion).
    • The World Bank - they recently asked India and Pakistan to explore options to settle their dispute over two hydroelectric projects in the Indus river basin, after New Delhi questioned its neutrality. This follows the bank's decision to proceed with two parallel mechanisms-Pakistan's demand for a Court of Arbitration and India's request for neutral experts. The bank 'paused' the process, saying two countries should consider resolving their dispute in an 'amicable manner and in line with the spirit' of the Indus Water Treaty of 1990.
    Current Affairs[November 2016]
    • 'Sumway Taihulight' - this computer won the fastest supercomputer title in the recently released 48th edition of Top500 list of supercomputers. With this, Chinese supercomputer has retained the top spot in the list of the world's fastest supercomputers for the eighth consecutive year.TaihuLight is built entirely using processors designed and made in China. It had made its first public appearance in June 2016. It was developed by the China's National Research Centre of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology (NRCPC). It can perform 93 quadrillions calculations per second (petaflop/s) almost three times as fast as Tianhe-2.
    • 'Toilets and jobs' - the theme of the World Toilet Day celebrated on 19 November 2016 to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. It seeks to draw attention of people around the world to raise global awareness of the daily struggle for proper sanitation which in fact is a human right along with clean water. It focuses on how sanitation or the lack of it, can impact on livelihoods. It also highlights the importance of crucial role played by Toilets in creating a strong economy, as well as improving health and protecting people's safety and dignity, particularly women's and girls'. The observance of this day is coordinated by United Nations-Water in collaboration with Governments of member countries and relevant stakeholders. In India, the observance of the day highlights the importance of Swacch Bharat Mission which to make India clean and open defecation free (ODF) by 2019. So far under Swacch Bharat Mission-Gramin 2.7 crore toilets are built, 1.2 lakhs villages are declared ODF, 60 districts declared ODF, 3 states (Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala) are declared ODF.
    • NASA - they successfully launched highly advanced geostationary weather satellite Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R). The satellite will boost the US's weather observation capabilities, leading to more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings. Key Facts GOES-R is the first of four new advanced weather satellites of the GOES-R program managed by US's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It will become operational within a year after undergoing a testing and validation of its six new instruments, including the first operational lightning mapper in geostationary orbit. GOES-R is also first satellite to carry a lightning mapper instrument to geostationary orbit. It will photograph lightning activity throughout Western Hemisphere about 200 times every second. It also will be part of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) System, an international satellite-based search and rescue network operated by NOAA.
    • 25 November 2016 - this day was observed as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women across the world. The theme for the day is "Orange the World - raise funds to end violence against women". The colour orange in the theme symbolizes a better future without the pervasive human rights violation that affects 1 in 3 women and girls all over the globe. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is observed to raise awareness about violence against women and discuss solutions that would work for women community.
    • Puan - the orangutan residing in Perth Zoo has recently been named the world's oldest Sumatran orangutan in captivity by the Guinness Book of World Records. She celebrated her 60th birthday recently with her birthday breakfast from her childhood home in Malaysia. She was gifted to the zoo in 1968 by the Sultan of Johor. Female orangutans in the wild do not generally live past 50.
    • FIM - it stands for Flight Deck Interval Management is the new system developed by NASA which increases the number of airplanes that can land on the same runway which will help to keep the flights on time. Cockpit based FIM is connected to the aircraft's on-board information and navigation systems.
    • 67 - it is the percent by which the global wildlife population could fall by an average between 1970 and 2020 as a result of human activities, according to World Wildlife Fund's Living Planet Report 2016.The report indicated that the global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have already declined by 58 per cent between 1970 and 2012.The report also highlights the magnitude of human impact on the planet and highlights the changes needed in the way society is fed and fuelled. According to the report, the top threats to species were directly linked to human activities including habitat loss, degradation and over exploitation of wildlife.
    • Living Torah - the name of the world's oldest known stone tablet inscribed with Ten Commandments-dating back about 1,500 to 1,700 years- which was recently put up for auction. The slab was discovered in 1913 in Israel and based on the shape and content of the text, scholars concluded that it was an ancient form of Samaritan, an archaic mixture of Aramaic and Hebrew that dated to between 300 and 500 AD.
    • World Science Day - this day is celebrated on 10 November every year all over world which was started by UNESCO in 2001 to demonstrate the importance of science in normal life.
    • 5th November 2016 - this day was recently celebrated as World's First Tsunami Awareness Day. Tsunamis are rare. But they can be extremely deadly. In the past 100 years, more than 260,000 people have perished in 58 separate tsunamis. At an average of 4,600 deaths per disaster, the toll has surpassed any other natural hazard. Such a stark impact isn't inevitable, however. Early warning systems can save lives. Equally important is community and individual understanding about how and where to evacuate before a wave strikes. Tsunamis know no borders, making international cooperation key for deeper political and public understanding of risk reduction measures. As a result, the UN General Assembly has made 5 November into World Tsunami Awareness Day, with the first edition being held this year.
    • 14 November - this day is observed as World Diabetes Day every year. World Diabetes Day was launched in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in response to the rapid rise of diabetes around the world. It focuses on a theme related to diabetes. This year the theme is 'EYES ON DIABETES'.
    • 12 November - this day is celebrated as The World Pneumonia Day globally to generate awareness about the 'pneumonia' disease. The day aims to highlight the severity of pneumonia and bring together the people from all over the world to promote the prevention and treatment of the disease. The Theme for 2016 "Keep the Promise, Stop Pneumonia Now".
    • Digital India - the theme adopted for the 36th edition of India International Trade Fair (IITF), started at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. 150 companies from 27 countries are taking part in the fair. The 2016 IITF has been organised by the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), under aegis of Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry. This year's partner country is South Korea and focus country is Belarus. Besides, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand are partner states and Haryana is focus state. This year's theme highlights country's persistent efforts to alleviate poverty through meaningful convergence of digital technologies and e-governance.
    • Asian Development Bank (ADB) - they have inked a $500-million loan agreement to build a 9.8 km long road bridge across the Ganga River in Bihar. It will be country's longest river bridge and shall provide better connectivity between North and South Bihar and also Patna and its surrounding areas. In addition to the loan, ADB will $900,000 in technical assistance. The state government will provide $215 million for the project. It is expected to be completed by end of December 2020.
    • 16 November - The International Day for Tolerance is observed globally on 16 November to generate public awareness of the dangers of intolerance. The observance of the day seeks to educate masses about the need for tolerance in society and help them understand the negative effects of intolerance. The International Day for Tolerance was instituted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by passing resolution 51/95 in 1996.
    • 'Sumway Taihulight' - it won the fastest supercomputer title in the recently released 48th edition of Top500 list of supercomputers. With this, Chinese supercomputer has retained the top spot in the list of the world's fastest supercomputers for the eighth consecutive year. TaihuLight is built entirely using processors designed and made in China. It had made its first public appearance in June 2016. It was developed by the China's National Research Centre of Parallel Computer Engineering and Technology (NRCPC). It can perform 93 quadrillions calculations per second (petaflop/s) almost three times as fast as Tianhe-2.
    Current Affairs[October 2016]
    • Astroturfing - the new method developed by scientists for spotting people who post false reviews, comments or tweets from multiple social media accounts to espouse opinions. Researchers from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in the US, describe a statistical method that analyses multiple writing samples - a practice known as 'astroturfing'. They found that it is challenging for authors to completely conceal their writing style in their text. Based on word choice, punctuation and context, the method is able to detect whether one person or multiple people are responsible for the samples.
    • Carbon Monoxide - one of the 100 toxic gases released by 'lithium-ion' battery commonly used in smartphones and tablets as per the new study by researchers from the institute of NBC Defence in the US and the Tsinghua University in China. It was also found that a fully charged battery will release more toxic gases than a battery with 50% charge.
    • Wade - the new species of titanosaur, a long necked behemoth recently confirmed, that roamed in Australia about 95 million years ago. The fossil remains of the dinosaur, dubbed Savannasaurus Elliottorum, commonly called wade was discovered in Queensland in 2005. It is believed that these massive animals migrated from present day South America into present day Australia and Antartica, back at the time when the three were connected as a part of the landmass Gondwana. The results were recently published in a journal Scientific Reports.
    • Haima - the name of typhoon which recently hit many parts of Hong Kong and Philippines effecting normal life and damaging properties and some life were also due to the wrath of this typhoon.
    • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) - the gas for which the scientists have developed a way of reverse combustion process in which CO2 can be turned back into a fuel. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US recently used complex nanotechnology techniques to turn the dissolved pollutant gas into ethanol.
    • Lettuce - the leafy green plant which has been planted by NASA on the International Space Station to learn how to grow fresh food in space-which may help astronauts on manned mission to Mars.
    • JiaJia - the name of the world's oldest giant panda which died at Hong Kong theme park recently at the age of 38, the equivalent of 114 human years. JiaJia whose name meant 'good' was a gift from the Chinese government to Hong Kong in 1999, on the occasion of the second anniversary of the former British colony handover to the mainland.
    Current Affairs[September 2016]
    • Titan - the name of Saturn's moon, which is believed to be the only celestial body other than Earth with liquid lakes and seas on its surfaces. It was in the news recently after NASA has unveiled plans to send a submarine to scour depth of Titan's largest ocean, Kraken More, for signs of life. Kraken More is the largest known body of liquid on the surface of Titan. It was discovered by the space probe Cassini and named in 2008 after the Kraken, a legendary sea monster. Kraken More may be hydrologically connected to the second-largest sea on Titan, Ligeia Mare.
    • Juno - the NASA's spacecraft sent to study the secrets of planet Jupiter. It was in the news recently as it executed its first flyby of Jupiter, passing 4200km above the gas giant's clouds-the closest contact ever achieved by a man-made probe with the planet. Juno entered its aimed-for orbit around Jupiter on July4, 2016 and passed closest on August 27, 2016. Juno will study the origins of Jupiter, its internal structure, its magnetosphere and its atmosphere.
    • Mars - the planet for which NASA mock mission ended successfully recently after the six people team ended their one year isolation at the barren northern slope of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii. The crew included a French astrobiologist, a German physicist and four Americans-a pilot, an architect, a doctor/journalist and a soil scientist spent their time inside a dome 36 feet(11m) in diameter and 20 feet tall.
    • Lionrock - the typhoon which rocked Japan recently especially the northern portions of the country. The typhoon with wind speed of over 160kmph landed on Japan's northern Pacific coast and tore through the region dumping torrential rain over a wide area, stranding communities, with roads and bridges destroyed or blocked.
    • 5th September - this day is celebrated every year as the International Day of Charity by United Nations to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 "for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace". With a single-minded mission of serving the poorest of the poor, Teresa worked for the poor, sick, orphaned and dying on the streets of Kolkata before her death on this day in 1997 at the age of 87. Recently, her canonisation by Pope Francis in the Vatican City mass was attended by 1, 00,000 pilgrims, including 13 heads of state or government and hundreds of sari-clad nuns from the Missionaries of Charity.
    Current Affairs[August 2016]
    • Delta - it is the name of the world's lightest paraglider tride that can take off and land with wheels while carrying an adult pilot. It has two rear-mounted propellers, horizontally arranged, each driven by a motor and is powered by lithium polymer batteries. The Delta has been built for the National Geographic Channel.
    • Raven Whale - the new species of Whale which has been reported from the northern Pacific Ocean. It is a black-beaked whale only rarely seen alive by Japanese fisherman which they call 'karasu', the Japanese word for raven. They have beaks like dolphins, dive several feet to feed on squid and bottom fish. The whales are elusive and can only be seen if the water is perfectly calm.
    • Uber - the US cab-hailing firm recently winded up its business in China to put its India expansion plan in top gear. Uber will be the third American technology behemoth after Amazon and Apple to double down on India, after having failed to make a breakthrough in China.
    • Moon Express - the private firm which has received a license from the US's Federal Aviation Administration to launch a spacecraft and land on the moon in 2017. So far, there been no private space missions beyond the Earth's orbit. The farthest commercial venture have so far gone up to 22,236 miles, the geosynchronous orbit to place the telecommunication satellites that fly above the earth.
    • The Google Lunar X Prize - the $20 million reward, is to incentivize space entrepreneurs to create an era of affordable access to space. The competition's prize goes to the first team to land a privately funded rover on the moon, travel 500m and transmit HD videos and images1.
    • Nida - the name of typhoon which recently swept across many parts of southern China and Hong Kong. It was the strongest typhoon to hit the Pearl River delta in 30 years.
    • 1007 - the number of robots which simultaneously participated together in a dancing event in China to make a new Guinness World Record. Each of the 43.8 cm tall dancing were controlled by just one mobile and the event was organised by the Chinese company, Ever Win Company. The earlier record was set by Chinese company UBTECH Robotics Cor with 540 dancing robots earlier this year.
    • 13th August - this day every year is celebrated as Organ Donation Day in India by the people, government organizations and other related professions in order to motivate normal human beings to donate the organs as well as to understand the value of organ donation in the life of an individual. The organ donor can be anyone of which the organ can be transplanted to the patient urgently require. The organ donated by the normal human being is saved properly to transplant into the patient whenever he or she require. One can get the new life through the organ transplantation donated by someone.
    • 41.8 million tones - it is the amount of global E-waste generated in 2014 as per the Global E-waste Monitor 2014. In the last five years global e-waste generation has gone up by 23% from 33.8 million tonnes in 2010 to 41.8 million tonnes in 2014. E-waste is a term used to cover all discarded electrical and electronic equipment and their parts.
    • Greenland sharks - they are the Earth's longest living creatures with a spine according to the first study on its lifespan. 392 years is the age of the oldest of the Greenland sharks examined after it was caught around four years ago. Greenland sharks are found in the North Atlantic.
    • July 2016 - this month has been recorded as the Earth's hottest month in modern times setting a new high mark for global heat in 137 years of record-keeping as per the report of United States government scientists released recently. July 2016 was 1.57 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th-century average, breaking last year's record for the warmest July on record by 0.11 degrees. Scientists say the heating trend is being driven by fossil-fuel burning, and is made worse by the ocean warming phenomenon known as El Nino, which came to an end last month. July's global average of temperatures taken over land and ocean surfaces was the highest for any month in the NOAA global temperature dataset record, which dates back to 1880.The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration came just two days after the US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration released its climate data, which also found July was a record-breaking month.
    • August 19 - this day is observed as World Photography Day, which aims to inspire photographers across the planet to share a single photo with a simple purpose: to share their world with the world. World Photo Day originates from the invention of the Daguerreotype, a photographic process developed by Frenchmen Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicephore Niepce in 1837. On January 9, 1839, The French Academy of Sciences announced the daguerreotype process. A few months later, on August 19, 1839, the French government purchased the patent and announced the invention as a gift "Free to the World".
    • Airlander 10 - the name of the helium-filled airship, considered the world's largest aircraft which flew for the first time in Bedford, UK recently. The Airlander 10 is a hybrid of blimp, helicopter and airplane and has been nicknamed the 'flying bum' because of its bulbous front end. The Airlander is designed to use less fuel than a plane but carry heavier loads than conventional airships.
    • Micius - the name of the world's first quantum satellite launched by China recently in an effort to harness the power of particle physics to build an 'unhackable' encrypted communication systems. The nickname is after a 5th century BC Chinese philosopher-scientist, the satellite will be used in experiments to prove the viability of quantum technology to communicate over long distances.
    • Iran - the country whose airbase was used for the first time by Russian bombers to strike over Syria. Russia recently launched Tu-22M3 long range bombers & Su-34 frontline bombers on Syria from the Hamedan air base, 280 km southwest of Tehran. Earlier Russia's long range bombers had to be launched from 1900km away, now bombers need to fly only 640km from Iran to Syria.
    • Great Auk - the penguin sized extinct flightless birds which disappeared in the 19th century after the last known bird was killed in 1844 on an Iceland island. Until the species extinction in the 19th century Great Auk ranged across Atlantic from northern Europe to Iceland. It was in the news recently after the scientists are planning to bring back the extinct bird. Researchers recently met at the International centre for Life in Newcastle to discuss reintroducing the flightless marine birds onto the Farne islands in England.
    • SwagBot - the world' s first robot designed to round up livestock being developed by Australian scientists to help the country' s farmers. SwagBot is a box of electronics supported by four independently moving legs on wheels. It is omnidirectional and can navigate obstacles across water and be remotely controlled by farmers as it herds cattles. The cattle stations in Australia average about 400,000 hectares of land where rearing livestock is becoming very difficult with growing producer' s becoming older.
    Current Affairs[July 2016]
    • The Grimsel - the name of the electric racing car built by Swiss student engineers that recently broke the world record for acceleration by battery-powered vehicles when it took only 1.513 seconds to reach 100kph.The record-breaking electric car was developed and built in less than a year by a team of 30 students at the ETH Zurich and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland. The previous record of 1.779 seconds was set last year by a team at the University of Stuttgart in Germany.
    • 6.5 million - the number of premature deaths which takes place in the world due to air pollution as per the special report released recently by International Energy Agency (IEA). China and India accounts for more than half of the deaths. India alone contributes 1.59 million deaths due to air pollution. The report also warned that the global number will increase significantly touching 7.5 million in 2040 unless the energy sector that emits majority of air pollution takes greater action to curb emission.
    • China - the country where the first indigenous commercial jet made its debut flight recently, was carrying 70 passengers. The jet ARJ21 took to maiden flight from Chengdu city in southwestern China's Sichuan Province to Shanghai, marking a landmark success. The jet manufactured by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), completed the maiden flight with a total of 70 passengers mostly journalists and television crews. The plane is China's first regional jet to be manufactured according to international standards and it is expected to compete with France's Airbus 320 and America's Boeing 737.It was put through six years of grueling tests before being awarded airworthiness certificates from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, and the US Federal Aviation Agency.
    • 2018 - the year in which NASA will launch the world's most powerful rocket Space Launch System (SLS) with Orion spacecraft, known as Exploration Mission-1(EM-1). It will also carry 13 small satellites secondary payloads or 'Cube Sats' to carry out science and technology investigations to help pave the way for future human exploration in deep space, including the journey to Mars. It was in the news recently as NASA for the last time tested the booster in a test environment at Orbital ATK Propulsions System's test facilities at Promontory, Utah.
    • Juno - the name of space craft which successfully entered into the orbit around Jupiter on a mission to probe the origins of the solar system. It will investigate Jupiter's origin, interior structure, deep atmosphere and magnetosphere. It will be the first solar array-powered spacecraft to go this deep into space and it is named after the goddess-sister-wife of the Roman god Jupiter.
    • Nepartak - the name of typhoon, the first of the year, which recently hit many parts of Taiwan and China.
    • 11th July - this day was recently celebrated as World Population day. This is an annual event, observed on July 11 every year, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. The event was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Programme in 1989. It was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987-approximately the date on which the world's population reached five billion people. It encourages the activities, events and information to help make this right a reality throughout the world. World Population Day aims at increase people's awareness on various population issues such as the importance of family planning, gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights.
    • Dadaab Camp - the refugee camp in Kenya which is the world's largest refugee camp. It is the site of a UNHCR base hosting 329,811 refugees in five camps as of October 2015, making it the largest such complex in the world. The center is run by the UNHCR, and its operations are financed by foreign donors. It was in the news recently after Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai spent her 19th birthday there to draw attention to the global refugee crisis.
    • Leap Second - the extra second which is added to the official clocks to keep clocks in sync with Earth's rotation. It was in the news recently as the timekeepers will add an extra second to 2016 on December 31,2016.Earth takes a little over 24 hours for full rotation-86,400.002 seconds and not 86,4000. First leap second was added in 1972 and the last one on June30, 2015. The leap second can only be added on June30 & Dec 31 at 23:59:60.
    • MeerKAT - the radio telescope of South Africa which was recently in the news for revealing 1300 galaxies in a tiny corner of the universe where only 70 were known before. The image released recently was the first from MeerKAT, where 16 dishes were formally commissioned the same day. MeerKAT's full contingent of 64 receptors will be integrated next year into a multi-nation Square Kilometre Array (SKA) which is set to become the world's most powerful radio telescope.
    • DURUS - the name of new robot-with human sized feet laced up in a pair of sneakers which has been developed by scientists of the Georgia Institute of Technology. The bipedal robot steps with a heel-toe motion that copies human locomotion more closely than flat-footed robot walkers can and to enhance the similarity the researchers also gave it pair of sneakers.
    • Perlan 2 - it is the name of engineless space glider that departed for a record-breaking attempt to glide at 90,000 feet over Argentina, which, if successful, could pave the way for hypersonic travel and aircraft on Mars.
    • 13.4% - this is the decadal rate at which Artic Sea Ice is melting. The extent of Artic sea ice at the peak of the summer also covers 40% less area than it did in the late 1970s.The six-month period from January to June 2016 was the planet's warmest half-year on record, and also had the lowest Artic Sea extent since satellite records began in 1979, according to NASA.
    • TRAPPIST-1c - the name of the exoplanet which is believed to be within the star's habitable zone. This is one of the exoplanet in addition to TRAPPIST-1b which has been discovered by the astronomers recently using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The planets orbit a red dwarf star at least 500 million years old, in the constellation of Aquarius. 1.5 days and 2.4 days is the time taken by TRAPPIST-1b and TRAPPIST-1c respectively to complete a circuit around red dwarf star. The planets are between 20 and 100 times closer to their star than the Earth is to the Sun.
    • Solar Impulse 2 - the solar-powered aircraft which successfully completed the first fuel-free flight around the world recently, returning to Abu Dhabi after an epic 16-month voyage and demonstrating the potential of renewable energy. It first took off from Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015, beginning a landmark journey of about 40,000 km (24,500 miles) around the globe and nearly 500 hours of flying. Swiss explorers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse founders and pilots, took turns piloting the aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 747 and weighing only as much as a family car.
    • 28th July 2016 - this day was recently celebrated as World Hepatitis Day. The theme for this year's World Hepatitis Day is 'Know Hepatitis-Act Now'. World Health Organisation (WHO) observes July 28 as World Hepatitis Day each year and the theme for 2016 is elimination. 400mn people are affected globally by water-borne A & E and blood-borne B & C Hepatitis.
    • Luca - it stands for Last Universal Common Ancestor is the single-cell, bacterium like organism which is believed to be the common ancestor of all life on Earth. Luca arrived about 3.8 billion years ago, and would eventually give rise to two different kinds of simple cells-bacteria and archaea.
    • Sleep Spindles - the waves which oscillates or alternates during sleep and looks like waves on an electroencephalogram. The scientists have suspected their involvement in cataloguing and storing memories as we sleep. The scientists now hope to target these spindles to treat memory impairment and cognitive deficits.
    Current Affairs[June 2016]
    • Robot Taxi - the Japanese technology company unveiled its driverless taxis on the sidelines of the G-7 summit held recently at Ise-Shima in Japan. Robot Taxi is a joint venture between ZMP that develops automated vehicle technology and mobile portal and e-commerce websites provider De Na Co.
    • Harambe - the 17-year-old endangered gorilla which was shot dead by the Cincinnati Zoo authorities in the United States after a four-year-old entered the enclosure, sparking a furious debate on animal rights. The male western lowland gorilla named Harambe was killed on Saturday by a special zoo response team that feared the boy's life was in danger. Video taken by zoo visitors showed the gorilla at times appeared to be protective of the boy but also dragged him through the shallow moat.
    • 5th June 2016 - the date on which the World Environment Day was celebrated recently.
    • QF-16 -the unmanned world's, most lethal drone which was recently tested by US Air Force over Florida and Gulf of Mexico. It is a new version of the F-16 fighter plane. A fully loaded F-16 has a six barrel M61 gun, along with 11 other places to mount weapons including nuclear missile.
    • The World Bank-they slashed its 2016 global growth forecast on Wednesday to 2.4 per cent from the 2.9 per cent estimated in January due to stubbornly low commodity prices, sluggish demand in advanced economies, weak trade and diminishing capital flows. The downgraded World Bank forecast follows a similar move by the International Monetary Fund, which cut its growth forecasts two months ago.
    • Jupiter - the largest planet of the solar system, is the planet which will be approached by American space agency NASA's Juno spacecraft within less than a month. The Juno mission was launched on August 5, 2011 with the primary aim of improving our understanding of the solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter.
    • The Carbfix project-the project at Iceland's Hellisheide plant, the world' largest geothermal facility which recently made a breakthrough of turning carbon dioxide into stone in matters of months by pumping it deep under- ground, offering a revolutionary new way of storing the greenhouse gas to tackle climate change. The pioneering experiment in Iceland mixed CO2 emissions with water and pumped it hundreds of feet underground into volcanic basalt rock- where it rapidly turned into a solids.
    • Microsoft Corp - the company which recently announced its proposal to buy LinkedIn Corp for $26.2 billion in it's biggest-ever deal, combining the software giant's business-productivity tools with an online network of 433 million professionals. For Microsoft, the deal will help it in its mission of trying to keep services like Outlook email relevant enough that customers won't want to leave it for competitors such as Google's Gmail. For LinkedIn, the opportunity to tap Microsoft's customers, including the 1.2 billion users of its Office suite of business software, could help it jump start growth, which has slowed in recent quarters.
    • Kepler - 1647 b -the name of the largest planet discovered recently by Astronomers which is outside our solar system. Astronomers have discovered the largest planet outside our solar system orbiting two stars, at a distance that would make it potentially habitable for people. A team of NASA astronomers that made the discovery using the Kepler space telescope revealed the findings at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in San Diego, California recently. The gaseous planet -- dubbed -- is the size of Jupiter and has a wide orbit, revolving around its two stars in 1,107 days, or around three years. The discovery is the eleventh of its kind since 2005.Planets that orbit two stars -- known as circumbinary planets -- are sometimes called "Tatooines," after the similar fictional planet in the movie Star Wars where Luke Skywalker was raised.
    • June 14 - this day is commemorated as World Blood Donor's Day to celebrate Karl Landsteiner's birthday .Professor Landsteiner, the Nobel Prize-winning biologist is the first who classified blood into groups.
    • ExoMars - the name of the joint mission to the Red Planet by Europe and Russia which captured its first images1 of Mars this week as part of its preparation for arriving at the planet in October 2016. The mission was launched on March 14, 2016 and has already flown half of its nearly 500 million km journey.
    • Tianhe-3 - it will be the name of new super computer to be launched by China in 2020. It will be capable of doing at least a billion calculations per second and will be launched during the 13th five year plan period (2016-2020). In 2010 China's first petaflop supercomputer Tianhe-1, capable of at least a million calculations per second came into service in the supercomputing centre.
    • K2-33b - it is the youngest fully formed planet which has been discovered by scientists recently. It is slightly larger than the Neptune and whips tightly around its star every five years. The discovery was made using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope and its extended K2 mission, as well as the W M Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
    • Mars - the planet on which minerals were recently discovered by NASA's Curiosity Rover. It has been exploring the sedimentary rocks within Gale Crater since landing in August 2012 from where significant amount of a silica mineral called 'Tridymite' has been discovered. On Earth, tridymite is formed at high temperatures in an explosive process called silicic volcanism. Mount St.Helens, the active volcano in Washington State and the Satsuma-Iwojima volcano in Japan are examples of such volcanoes.
    Current Affairs[May 2016]
    • Sea Hunter - the world's largest unmanned surface vessel, a self-driving 132-foot ship which can travel up to 10,000 nautical miles on its own to hunt for stealth submarines and underwater mines. The US military's research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA, in conjunction with the navy will be testing the ship off San Diego coast over the next two years.
    • Mars -the planet on which scientists have detected atomic oxygen in the atmosphere for the first time in 40 years. These atoms were found in the upper layers of the Martian atmosphere known as the mesosphere by an instrument on board the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).The oxygen we breathe is called O2 as it comprises of two atoms of oxygen and O (one atom) is atomic oxygen. Atomic oxygen affects how other gases escape Mars and therefore has a significant impact on the planet's atmosphere.
    • Mercury - the planet whose transit was visible in India recently. It is the phenomenon which occurs when the Sun, Mercury and earth are lined in one plane. Unlike solar eclipses, Transit of Mercury are rare. In a century, there are about 13-14 events. They happen in pairs separated by about three years. The next one will be on November 11, 2019. But this will be visible only in some parts, including South America and Africa and not in India. The following one, to occur on November 13, 2032 will be viewed in India.
    • HoloFlex - the name of the world's first holographic flexible smartphone that lets users interacts with 3D videos and images1 without any headgear or glasses. It allows for glasses free interactions with 3D video and images1 in a way that does not encumber the user. HoloFlex features a 1920x1080 full high definition Flexible Organic Light Emitting Diode (FOLED) touch screen display.
    • Sea Harrier - the iconic aircraft of Indian Navy as recently phased out after 33 years of service. This maritime fighter was inducted in 1983 and was built by British aerospace. Indian Navy's Sea Harrier squadron was deployed during Operation Vijay in 1999 and embarked on the Viraat during the Operation Parakram in 2001 when standoff with Pakistan was at all time high.
    • 1284 - the number of new planets which have been discovered by astronomers beyond our solar system recently which is believed to be the single largest findings of planet to date. 9 of them are possibly in orbits suitable for surface water which bolsters their prospects of supporting life. The new planets were identified during the Kepler space telescope's four year primary mission and a new analysis technique that applied statistical models to confirm the batch as planets, while ruling out scenarios that could falsely appear to be orbiting planets.
    • Redzikowo - the place in northern Poland is the place where the US has put up missile interceptor stations as part of the NATO's larger shield due to become fully operational by 2018. In addition to it one missile interceptor has also been set up at Deveselu in southern Romania. This has led to war of words between US and Russia. The Redzikowo station is just 250km from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and due to this Moscow views this system as security threat on its very doorstep.
    • Harmony of the Seas - the world's biggest cruise ship which sets sail on its maiden voyage to the UK from France recently. The 1 billion euro, 16 deck ship is bigger than the Eiffel tower and holds the record for being the widest cruise ship ever built-boasting a 6,360 passenger capacity. It's been compared to a floating city with more than 2,500 staterooms, 20 dining venues, 23 swimming pools and a park with more than 10,000 plants and 50 trees.
    • ROSS - it is the name of the first artificial intelligence lawyer which has been hired by a US firm, which will use the robot to assist its teams in legal research. The robot is built upon Watson, IBM's cognitive computer.
    • -Unique Pink' - the name of the rare pear-shaped 15.38 carat pink diamond which sold recently for $31.6 million(Rs.211.6 crore approx.) at Sotheby's in Geneva, making it the most expensive fancy vivid pink diamond ever sell at an auction. The previous record was held by -Sweet Josephine', a fancy vivid pink diamond weighing 16.08 carats which sold for $28.5 million (Rs.190.08 crore) at Christie in November 2015.
    • RoboBees - the name of the flying micro robots built by scientists which can perch during flight like birds or butterflies to save energy and stay in the air for longer. Inspired by nature the RoboBees has been pioneered at the Harvard Microbotics Lab which uses an electrode patch and a foam mount that absorbs shock.
    • CNN TV - the channel which will feature Anthony Bourdain, a chef and food critic eating street food with US President Barrack Obama in Hanoi, Vietnam. He ate 'bun cha' in the Bun Cha Huong Lien eatery for the travel show on CNN about the hidden culinary gems.
    Current Affairs[April 2016]
    • Suddeutsche Zeitung - the newspaper of Germany which received the documents from the Panamian law firm Mossack Fonseca about illegal investments in tax heavens. Commonly called the 'Panama Papers' is the set of over 11 million leaked documents that reveal how the rich and connected around the world used tax heavens for salting away their wealth. The Indian Government has formed a team comprising the CBDT, FIU, Foreign Tax and Tax Research and RBI to look into the leaks.
    • Ethereum - the name of the newly created virtual currency that has soared in value, climbing 1,0005 over the last three months. Unlike Bitcoin, which was released in 2009 by a mysterious creator known as Santoshi Nakamoto, Ethereum was created in a more transparent fashion by 21-year old Russian-Canadian, Vitalik Buterin.
    • NTT - stands for Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, the former telephone monopoly in Japan, has agreed to buy technology services business from Dell for $3 billion as the company seeks to expand overseas to counter an aging domestic market. The acquisition through unit NTT Data is to strengthen the foot print in North America and enhance cloud service and business-process outsourcing.
    • Earth day - this day was celebrated on 22nd March 2016. Leaders from 160 countries officially signed the Paris Climate Agreement on Earth Day 2016.The deal was thrashed out in Paris last December in order to stem global warming. The signing makes this year's Earth Day one of the most important in years, and the organisers will be attempting to build on the momentum created by last year's Paris Climate Summit.
    • Rio City - the capital of the Rio de Janeiro state which lies in the south eastern region of Brazil. It was in news as the official countdown to Rio 2016 began with the lighting of the Olympic flame at the Temple of Hera, Olympia by Greek actor Katerina Lehou.
    • MK2 - the 100 mile wide moon which was recently spotted by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope orbiting the second brightest icy dwarf planet after Pluto in the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is a vast reservoir of left over frozen material from the construction of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago.
    • $5 - note of New Zealand won the Bank Note of the Year Award for 2015 from among a record 20 countries which placed their bank notes on the ballot. The note featuring Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to summit Mount Everest, was chosen by the International bank Note Society for its artistic merit and security features.
    • 171 - the number of nations which signed the Paris accord on climate change on 22nd April, 2016 as the landmark deal took a key step forward, potentially entering into force years ahead of schedule of 2020. After signing, countries must formally approve the Paris Agreement through their domestic procedures. China, the world's top carbon emitter, announced it will 'finalize domestic procedures' to ratify the Paris Agreement before the G-20 summit in China in September 2016. The US also has said it intends to join the agreement this year.
    • C/2014 S3 -the name of the new comet which has been discovered recently. The new comet is made of rocky materials found on Earth. Researchers believe that it was formed in the inner Solar System, somewhere near earth, but was expelled to the backyard and preserved in the Oort Cloud for billions of years. This comet is nicknamed Manx, after a breed of cats without tails, as this planet is made of rocky material and there is no vaporization or tail.
    Current Affairs[March 2016]
    • 22nd March - this day was recently celebrated as World Water Day. According to the report 'Water: At what cost?' released by Water Aid on this day, about 7.6 crore people, which is 5% of India's population , are deprived of safe water and country registers around 1.4 lakh child deaths annually due to diarrhea, mainly a water-borne disease. India has the world's largest number of people without access to safe water. India's neighbours -China, Bangladesh and Pakistan-are also among the top 10 countries where maximum number of people are living without uncontaminated drinking water.
    • HD20782 - it is the new extra solar planet spotted by scientists from San Francisco State University, about 117 light years from Earth, that boasts of the most eccentric orbit ever seen, measured at an eccentricity of .96. This means that the planet moves in a nearly flattened ellipse, travelling a long path far from its star and then making a fast and furious slingshot around the star at its closest approach.
    • Airlander 10 - it is the world's longest aircraft which was unveiled recently. It is part plane, part airship and part helicopter, is 92 m long-around 15 longer than the biggest passenger jets. The British firm Hybrid air Vehicles(HAV) have designed the craft to stay airborne for up to three weeks using helium and the vessel is able to travel at a speed of 148kmph.
    • Twitter - the famous social networking site which completed 10 years recently. The micro blogging site has 320 million active monthly users out of which 32 million users are in India. The little Twitter birdie has a name-Larry Bird after Hall of Fame basketball player Larry Bird.
    • February 2016 - the month in which the global temperature in February 2016 smashed monthly records to become the warmest month in more than a century of recordkeeping. According to NASA data, global surface temperature across land and ocean in February were 1.35C warmer than the average for that month measured from 1951-1980 baselines.
    • Mars - the planet for which Europe and Russia recently launched a spacecraft in a joint mission to sniff out life on Mars and bring humans a step closer to flying to Red Planet themselves. The craft, part of the ExoMars programme, blasted from Baikonour spaceport in Kazakhstan on board a Proton rocket, starting a seven-month journey through space.
    • September 4, 2016 - the date on which Mother Teresa would be canonised. Pope Francis recently approved sainthood for Mother Teresa, the missionary nun who became a global symbol of compassion for her care of the sick and destitute. The pontiff set September 4 as the date for her canonization, elevating her to an official icon of the Catholic faith.
    • Amazon - the online retail colossus has applied for US patent on using selfies-instead of passwords- for shopping using smartphones. Amazon reasoned that combining sensor and camera capabilities in smartphones with face and gesture recognizing software's results in higher security than passwords or identification numbers.
    • European Union -they recently concluded a treaty with Turkey intended to halt illegal migration flow to Europe in return for financial and political rewards for Ankara. Under the pact Ankara would take back all illegal migrants who cross to Greece, including Syrians, in return for the EU taking in thousands of Syrian refugees directly from Turkey and rewarding it with more money, early visa-free travel and progress in its EU membership negotiations.
    • Barbie-it is one of the world's best-selling dolls which turned 57 on March 9, 2016. It is inspired by German doll 'Bild Lilly'. Mattel founders Ruth and Elliot Handler introduced Barbie, named after Barbara, in 1959.
    • Alpha Go-the name of the computer program that that recently made waves after winning the ancient strategy game 'Go' from one of the strongest players of the game, Lee Sedol of South Korea in what's seen as a historic breakthrough in the building of artificial intelligence(AI) systems. Alpha Go clinched the series in Seoul. It has been developed by Google Deep Mind, a subsidiary of Google/Alphabet.
    Current Affairs[February 2016]
    • SOFIA- stands for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy which is flying telescope of NASA in a heavily modified Boeing 74SP jetliner. It carries a 100 inch telescope to altitudes between 39,000 and 45,000 feet, giving astronomers the ability to study celestial objects at infrared wavelengths that cannot be seen from observatories on Earth.
    • My Shake- the new app developed by the University of California, Berkley to give early warning of an earthquake.
    • LIGO-stands for Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory facility in Louisiana, USA which captured the first ever glimpse of the gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are ripples in the space-time fabric triggered by colliding black holes or neutron star (that is formed by the explosive death of another star).
    Current Affairs[January 2016]
    • 2015- this year was the warmest year since 1880 and it shattered the previous record set in 2014 by the widest margin of 0.16 degree C as per the report by the National Oceanic and atmospheric Administration Administration (NOAA).
    • Houbara- the rare desert bird from which the ban on killing was recently lifted by Pakistan Supreme court. This is found in sandy and stony semi arid regions especially in Baluchistan.
    • Zika- the virus which has brought havoc in Central America, South America, Caribbean and Oceania countries. It can be transmitted by the bite of mosquito or from the mother to the foetus via the placenta. It is believed it causes Microcephaly which is a neurological disorder in newborns.
    • Snowzilla- the monster blizzard that deposited more than two feet of snow and brought Washington, New York and other northeastern US cities to standstill and killed many people.
    • The Martian- the space adventure which won the top movie prize in the best motion picture-musical or comedy category at the 73rd Golden Globes Awards recently.
    • The Revenant- the revenge drama which won the top movie prize in the best motion picture-drama category at the 73rd Golden Globes Awards recently.
    • Juno- the NASA's spacecraft to Jupiter which broke the record for the most distant solar powered mission when it travelled 793mn km from the Sun. Juno will arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016 and over the next year the space craft will orbit the Jovian world 33 times, skimming to within 5,000 km of the planet's cloud tops every 14 days. Launched in 2011, Juno is the first solar powered spacecraft designed to operate at such a great distance from the Sun.
    • AIIB- stands for Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which was recently inaugurated by China's President Xi Jinping to streamline infrastructure across the continent. AIIB with an authorized capital of $100 billion is believed to be China's effort to rival the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
    • Hubble Telescope- for the first time ever this telescope captured merging of two galaxies nearly 230 million light-years away from the earth, in the Hercules constellation. NGC 6052 which was originally classified as a single abnormal galaxy collided with another drawn together by gravity.

    International Current Affairs 2015

    Current Affairs[December 2015]
    • Hubble Telescope- for the first time ever this telescope captured merging of two galaxies nearly 230 million light-years away from the earth, in the Hercules constellation. NGC 6052 which was originally classified as a single abnormal galaxy collided with another drawn together by gravity.
    • Falcon 9- the rocket of Elon Musk which made an upright landing in a giant leap towards making rockets reusable like airplanes, after launching 11 satellites. The rocket reached a height of 200km before heading back to Earth and touching down at a former US Air Force rocket and missile testing range. Musk's Space X is a privately funded space transport firm.
    • 0.25%- The percentage by which the US Federal Reserve raised its benchmark short term interest rates, after keeping it around zero since the start of the 2008 financial crisis. The hike was announced by Fed chairperson Janet Yellen after the meeting of the Fed's top policy making body, the Federal Open Market Committee.
    • Renminbi- also known as Yuan, the currency of China,which was recently included by IMF Board as the fifth currency in its special drawing rights. There are only four other currencies-the dollar, euro, pound and yen, that have the IMF Designation.
    • James Webb- the most powerful space telescope being built by NASA team that will replace the Hubble telescope which will start decaying by 2020. It can detect light from the first galaxies and study every phase of our universe's history.
    Current Affairs[November 2015]
    • James Webb- the most powerful space telescope being built by NASA team that will replace the Hubble telescope which will start decaying by 2020. It can detect light from the first galaxies and study every phase of our universeas history.
    • AKP- stands for Justice and Development Party which is the ruling party of Turkey. This party under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured a stunning victory in the snap parliamentary elections held recently.
    • Robo Bee- the insect like robot which has been designed by engineers at Harvard University’s John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. It is smaller than a paper clip that can both fly and swim-paving the way for aerial and aquatic robotic vehicles.
    • SPECTRE- stands for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (SPECTRE) which is the title of the forthcoming movie of James Bond.
    Current Affairs [October 2015]
    • Robo Bee- the insect like robot which has been designed by engineers at Harvard University’s John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. It is smaller than a paper clip that can both fly and swim-paving the way for aerial and aquatic robotic vehicles.
    • SPECTRE- stands for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (SPECTRE) which is the title of the forthcoming movie of James Bond.
    • Blue- the colour in which the UN headquarters was lit up for the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in New York on 24th October 2015.
    • Kimbetopsalis simmonsae- the plant eating beaver like mammal whose fossil remains were discovered recently. It is believed that they lived just after the mass extinction of life on Earth, 66 million years ago.
    • MARS- the planet from where first proof of flowing waters have been found recently. Scientists analyzing data from a NASA spacecraft have found the first evidence that briny water flowed on the surface of Mars as recently as last summer.
    • Dujuan- the super typhoon which battered Taiwan recently leaving many injured as torrential rain and fierce winds hits many parts of the island’s northeastern tip.
    • October 3,2015- this day marked the 25 years of joyful reunification of Germany and is celebrated as Germany’s national day. The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is recognized as the symbol of German unity.
    Current Affairs [September 2015]
    • MARS- the planet from where first proof of flowing waters have been found recently. Scientists analyzing data from a NASA spacecraft have found the first evidence that briny water flowed on the surface of Mars as recently as last summer.
    • Dujuan- the super typhoon which battered Taiwan recently leaving many injured as torrential rain and fierce winds hits many parts of the island’s northeastern tip.
    • October 3,2015- this day marked the 25 years of joyful reunification of Germany and is celebrated as Germany’s national day. The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin is recognized as the symbol of German unity.
    Current Affairs [August 2015]
    • Windows 10- the much awaited new operating system which was launched by Microsoft together in 190 countries. For the first time in Microsoft's history, Windows 10 is a free upgrade to users on Windows 7 and Windows 8- a sign of Microsoft bucking to the modern trend, started by both Apple and Google, of giving operating systems away for free.
    • Tethys- the moon of the planet Saturn on whose surface NASA’s spacecraft Cassini has spotted unexplained arc-shaped, reddish streaks.
    • Aurora- it is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude regions. Astronomers recently discovered the first of this outside our solar system, around a brown dwarf star around 18 light years away from Earth, which is up to 10,000 times more powerful than any previously seen.
    • Rocky Fire- the name of the wildfire which recently raged through the northern California destroying many homes and displacing many residents.
    • SDG- stands for Sustainable Development Goals of UN that entail 17 goals and 169 targets applicable from January 1, 2016 which will replace the Millennium Development Goals 2015. These goals are to be met by 2030 by 192 countries and $2.5 trillion is needed to implement SDG.
    • 6th August-this day marked the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. It was 1945 on this day American b-29 bomber dropped a bomb, dubbed Little Boy on Hiroshima which instantly killed more than 80,000 people.
    • Pyongyang time- the new time zone announced by North Korea which will be 30 minutes behind those of South Korea and Japan. The change is to go into effect on August 15, 2015, the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II, which liberated a then-unified Korea from decades of Japanese colonial rule.
    • 9th August- this day marked the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb, ‘Fat Man’ on Japan’s Nagasaki which killed more than 74,000 people.
    • 51 Eridani- the name of the new planet found recently by researchers. It is a methane shrouded planet 100 light years away that resembles a young Jupiter and holds water. It is only 20 million years old-a mere infant by astronomy standards. It is the first planet detected by the Gemini Planet Imager, which was designed to discover and analyse faint young planets orbiting bright, nearby stars.
    • Erawan shrine- the Hindu shrine dedicated to Hindu God Brahma located in central Bangkok which was recently rocked by blasts which killed many people.
    • Reboot the Suit- the name of online crowdfunding campaign to restore the spacesuit that astronaut Neil Armstrong wore when he became the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. This is the first time the Smithsonian, the world's largest museum and research complex has turned to crowdfunding to help cover the cost of preserving its most valuable artefacts from the ravages of time.
    • 24th August 2015- the date on which Facebook passed an important milestone-for the first time ever one billion people used Facebook in a single day,the highest ever on a single day according to its CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
    • Grumpy Cat- she will become the first feline to be honored with an animatronic wax statute at the Madame Tussauds museum in San Francisco.3, 00,000 is the number of followers she has on Twitter.
    Current Affairs [July 2015]
    • AIIB- stands for Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which recently came into being at Beijing recently with an authorized capital of $100 billion and articles of agreement between 57 member nations. China, India and Russia are the three largest share holders taking a 30.34%, 8.52 % and 6.66% stakes respectively. The bank is expected to finance infrastructure projects across Asia and will likely become operational by the end of the year.
    • Let's Move- the campaign launched in United States to fight childhood obesity.
    • Mainau Declaration 2015- the declaration signed by Nobel laureates which call for action on climate change-the urgent need do limit global emissions and protect the climate which was signed at meet held at Lindau in Germany.
    • TAPI- stands for Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline project which has been envisaged to take gas from Turkmenistan, which holds the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves to India and Pakistan through Afghanistan.
    • Go Set a Watchman- the second novel of Harper Lee was released recently simultaneously in 70 countries by its publisher Harper Collins which published 2 million copies in the first print, the most preordered book in company's history. His earlier Pulitzer winning novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird" was published 50 years ago.
    • Pluto- the planet on which icy mountains have been found recently by NASA's spacecraft New Horizons. NASA has named these peaks as the Norgay Montes after Tenzing Norgay who was the Sherpa guide for Sir Edmund Hillary when they conquered Mount Everest in 1953.
    • Renmibi- the unit in which the first loan will be issued by the BRIC's New Development Bank (NDB) in April next year. One US dollar is worth 6.25 renmibi, one unit of which is worth Rs.10.33. The NDB opened in Shanghai on July 21, 2015 to finance infrastructure projects mainly in BRICS countries-the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
    • Windows 10- the much awaited new operating system which was launched by Microsoft together in 190 countries. For the first time in Microsoft's history, Windows 10 is a free upgrade to users on Windows 7 and Windows 8- a sign of Microsoft bucking to the modern trend, started by both Apple and Google, of giving operating systems away for free.
    • Tethys- the moon of the planet Saturn on whose surface NASA's spacecraft Cassini has spotted unexplained arc-shaped, reddish streaks.
    • Aurora- it is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude regions. Astronomers recently discovered the first of this outside our solar system, around a brown dwarf star around 18 light years away from Earth, which is up to 10,000 times more powerful than any previously seen.
    Current Affairs [June 2015]
    • MERS- stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, the virus based disease whose fear of spread created panic in South Korea recently, the largest outbreak fear since the one which happened in Saudi Arabia.
    • The House of Hidden Mothers- the novel focused on late parenthood and surrogacy in the British Asian community written by British Indian writer and actor Meera Syal which was launched in London recently.
    • Apple Music- the new services announced by Apple which will stream music with a new subscription services that will allow users to stream songs, listen to playlists and connect with perfomers.
    • Jurassic World- the new movie by Steven Spielberg which opened with a bang in its week on its way to the biggest box office opening ever worldwide.
    • Laudato Si- stands for Praise Be, the 191 page encyclical in which Pope Francis takes a humanistic position on climate change and calls for cultural revolution to change the world’s ‘structurally perverse’ economic system.
    • BX1E- the world’s first electric passenger aircraft which has been designed by the Shenyang Aerospace University and Liaoning General Aviation Academy in China. It can fly at an altitude of 3,000 metres for 45 minutes to an hour at a stretch.
    • Free hit- the hit given after no ball will be discontinued after the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) ratification of the new One day International rules from July 5, 2015. The other key changes would be removal of batting power play and close catchers not being allowed in the first five overs.
    • Space X Falcon 9- the unmanned Space Exploration Technologies rocket which exploded two minutes after take -off from Cape Canaveral, Florida recently.
    Current Affairs [May 2015]
    • Pashupatinath- the famous temple of Shiva which was able to survive the major earthquake in Nepal.
    • MESSENGER- the NASA's spacecraft crashed into Mercury ending its historic 11 year mission that provided valuable data and thousands of images1 of the planet. Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSSENGER) was launched on August 3, 2004 and it began orbiting Mercury on March 18, 2011 and completed its primary science objectives by March 2012.
    • Conservatives- the party led by British Prime Minister David Cameron which came back to power with 331 seats crossing the 326 in the 650 member House of Commons.
    • May 8- this day is celebrated as Victory in Europe Day be most European countries marking the end of the World War II on the continent.
    • The Woman of Algiers (version O) - The painting masterpiece created by Picasso became the most expensive artworks to be sold at an auction when it was sold for Rs.151 crore ($179.36 million) at Christie's in New York recently. It is a vibrant, cubist depiction of nude courtesans and is part of a 15 work series Picasso created in 1954-55 designated with the letters A to O. The previous highest record was $ 142.4 million for Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud in New York in 2013.
    • Ponting Man- The sculpture by Alberto Giacometti became the most expensive sculpture to be sold at an auction when it was sold for Rs.907crore ($141.3 million) recently. It is a bronze figure depicting a skinny 5 foot high person with extended arms. The previous highest record was held by Giacometti whose Walking Man was sold for $104.3 million in London in 2010.
    Current Affairs [April 2015]
    • April 2- this day was recently celebrated as World Autism Awareness Day. Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) affects the way the brain processes information and often prevents individuals from understanding what they see, hear and otherwise sense, resulting in difficulties in social relationships, communications and behavior.
    • Dalny Vostok- the Russian fishing trawler which sank recently killing many persons. 
    • Godzilla- he was recently appointed as resident and tourism ambassador for Tokyo's Shinjuku ward in an effort to lure tourists.
    • Songkran- the most celebrated festival of the year which marks the start of Thailand's traditional New Year was celebrated recently.
    • Asteroid 316201- the asteroid between Mars and Jupiter which orbits the Sun every 5.5 years has been renamed Malala 316201 or 2010ML48 after Malala Yousafzai,the youngest Nobel Prize winner. This asteroid was discovered in 2010 by Amy Mainzer , astronomer at NASA'a Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
    • Airbus- the French major aeroplanes manufacturer which has recently agreed to set up plant in India to manufacture helicopters, satellites and military transport planes.
    • Songkran- the most celebrated festival of the year which marks the start of Thailand's traditional New Year was celebrated recently.
    • New Zealand- they defeated Australia to win the 24th Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament played at Ipoh, Malaysia.
    • Jitu Rai- he clinched the men's 10m air pistol bronze at the ISSF World Cup in Changwon,Korea.
    • April 14th- this day was recently celebrated as World Matrimony Day.
    • Maglev Train- the Japan's state of the art train, which clocked a new world record of 603 kmph in a test run near Mount Fiji near Tokyo.
    • 23rd April- this day was recently celebrated as World Book Day.
    • Pashupatinath- the famous temple of Shiva which was able to survive the major earthquake in Nepal.
    • MESSENGER- the NASA's spacecraft crashed into Mercury ending its historic 11 year mission that provided valuable data and thousands of images1 of the planet. Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging (MESSSENGER) was launched on August 3, 2004 and it began orbiting Mercury on March 18, 2011 and completed its primary science objectives by March 2012.
    Current Affairs [March 2015]
    • Fifty Shades of Grey- the erotic drama produced by Universal Pictures of US whose release in India was banned by censor board of India, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
    • Ola- this company recently bought rival TaxiForSure in a cash and equity deal worth $200 million.
    • 8th March- this day was recently celebrated as International's Women's Day.

    • Solar Impulse 2- the world's only solar power plane, which recently set off from Abu Dhabi in a bid to make the first round the world. It will have stop over in India at Ahmedabad and Varanasi. It is expected to cover 35,000km with 25 day travel 12 stop over 5 months. The aircraft founders and pilots are Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg.

    • Britannia- the 141,000 tonne liner which can accommodate up to 3647 passengers was recently inaugurated by British Queen Elizabeth II.

    • Amazon.com- the e commerce giant which recently received the approval of US Federal Aviation Administration to test a delivery drone outdoors over private and rural land in Washington state.
    • Dalny Vostok- the Russian fishing trawler which sank recently killing many persons.
    Current Affairs [February 2015]
    • Boyhood- the movie directed by Richard Linkater which won top honours at the68th BAFTA awards in London winning Best film and Best director award.

    • George Lucas- the director and producer of the Star Wars has emerged as the wealthiest Hollywood tycoon with a fortune of $5.4 billion according to Wealth X, a global wealth intelligence and prospecting company.

    • 14 teams- the number of teams which are playing in the 2015 World Cup which will have 49 games was declared open at inaugural ceremony held at Melbourne in Australia and Christchurch in New Zealand.
    • Indian-American Professor Gets Top US Chemistry AwardPurnendu Dasgupta, a Jenkins Garrett professor of chemistry at The University of Texas at Arlington, has been awarded the 2015 American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry J. Calvin Giddings Award for Excellence in Education.
      The national award recognises a scientist, who has enhanced the professional development of analytical chemistry students, developed and published innovative experiments, designed and improved equipment or teaching labs and published influential textbooks or significant articles on teaching analytical chemistry.

    • Best Picture Oscar Awarded To 'Birdman'
      The Oscar award for the Best Picture was clinched by the team of "Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)" at the 87th Academy Awards here on Feb 22, 2015.
      The movie tells the tale of Riggan Thomson, best known to the public as Birdman — the superhero he once played in a series of films. He hopes to re-establish himself as a serious actor by mounting his own dramatic production on Broadway.

    • Israel To Explore Making Defence Products In India
      Israel is ready to explore making some defence products in India, its Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon said , responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' call to global aerospace firms to manufacture defence equipment in the country.
      "We welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policy of 'Make in India.' We will examine with the Indian government the concept of Make in India to produce some products in India," Ya'alon told reporters after inaugurating his country's pavilion at the Aero India trade expo at the Yelahanka base of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on the city's outskirts.

    • Ashton Carter Sworn In As Obama's New Defence Secretary
      Ashton Carter was sworn in as the 25th US defense secretary -the fourth in US President Barack Obama's six years in office.
      After taking the helm, he will have to tackle mounting issues, such as the fight against the extremist group Islamic State (IS) and a decision on whether to arm the Ukrainian forces with lethal weapons.

    • NASA Launches Deep Space Solar Monitoring Satellite
      The US space agency has launched a new mission called the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) to monitor solar activity in deep space.
      Launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, DSCOVR will provide space weather forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) more reliable measurements of solar wind conditions, improving their ability to monitor potentially harmful solar activity.

    • Two Indians Win Honours At Grammy Awards
      Two Indians — Ricky Kej and Neela Vaswani — took home a Grammy Award each at the 57th edition of the musical extravaganza held here Sunday night. The latter's narration of the audio of the book "I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up For Education And Changed The World" won her the trophy.
      Vaswani, who stays in New York, bagged a Grammy in the Best Children's Album category for recreating Pakistan's Nobel laureate Yousufzai's book in audio form. It reaches out to tell a tale of a brave teenaged girl who risked her life for the right to go to school.

    • World's oldest man celebrates 112th birthday
      A Japanese man who was certified as the oldest living man by the Guinness World Records in August 2014, turned 112.
      Sakari Momoi, a resident of Saitama city, is still in good health, Xinhua news agency reported.
    Current Affairs [January 2015]
    • Two Years Eight Months and Twenty Eight Nights- the new novel of British author Salman Rushdie to be published after seven years, is based on collection of folk tales known as the Arabian Nights.
    • Kepler 438B- one of the eight new planets found in distant solar system by NASA's Kepler space telescope, could be termed as Earth's twin, is 12%larger than Earth and get 40%more light.
    • Charlie Hebdo- the French satirical magazine which recently faced a terrorist attack at it's headquarter in Paris killing 12 persons.
    • MH370 Met With Accident, Malaysia Declares Officially
      The Malaysian government has officially declared that Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 met with an accident March 8 last year, and all 239 people on board the plane are presumed dead.
      The announcement was made by Director General of Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman on Jan 29, 2015.
      Neither the wreckage of the aircraft nor the bodies of those on board have been found yet.

    • Saudi King Abdullah Dies: Modi CondolesKing Abdullah died on Jan 23, 2015 of complications from pneumonia and has been succeeded by his brother Salman, the Saudi Arabian royal household said in a statement.
      Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
      "In King Abdullah, we have lost an important voice, who left a lasting impact on his country. I condole his demise," Modi said in a statement

    • Sri Lanka Polls: Sirisena won PM Modi Congratulates Sirisena
      Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Maithripala Sirisena on his victory in the Sri Lankan polls and reaffirmed India's continued support for the nation's peace and development.
      "I spoke to Maithripala Sirisena and congratulated him. I congratulate the people of Sri Lanka on the peaceful and democratic poll process," the prime minister said in a statement.
      He added: "As a close friend and neighbour, reaffirmed India's continued solidarity and support for Sri Lanka's peace, development and prosperity."

    • Colombia's Paulina Vega Wins Miss Universe 2014 Title
      Colombian beauty Paulina Vega beat 87 contestants, including India's Noyonita Lodh, to win the Miss Universe 2014 crown here on 25th January, 2015.
      Bangalore girl Noyonita, 21, failed to reach the Top 10, but she had managed to pave her way into the Top 15 at the 63rd edition of the pageant. India has not won the Miss Universe crown since 2000, when now Bollywood actress Lara Dutta had walked away with the accolades.
      At the 2014 pageant, contestants from 88 countries were participating.

    International Current Affairs 2014

    Current Affairs [December 2014]
    • Modi-Putin talks: 12 new n-reactors in India, 20 agreements inked
      Nuclear energy cooperation between India and Russia got a major boost with both sides inking a vision document for the construction of 12 Russia-built nuclear units in India over the next two decades as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin held summit talks here.
      The two sides inked 20 agreements, including in the sphere of defence cooperation, oil and gas and in trade, after the holding of the 15th India-Russia annual summit.

    • 141, mostly children, killed in Peshawar school attack
      In one of the worst acts of human savagery ever perpetrated, the Pakistani Taliban senselessly slaughtered 141 people, 132 of them children, in a brazen terror attack launched by its heavily armed gunmen and suicide bombers on an army-run school in Pakistan's Peshawar city in retaliation to the army's operation against extremists in North Waziristan.
      The horrifying attack was carried out by a group of paramilitary uniform-wearing terrorists who stormed the Army Public School complex in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, Pakistani media said.

    • Robin Williams, Brazil World Cup, Ebola top 2014 Google searches
      The late Hollywood star Robin Williams, Brazil's World Cup soccer championship, and the Ebola virus have been the top searches on Google this year, according to the tech company.
      The smartphone game "Flappy Birds", cross-dressing Austrian singer and Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst, the animated game of the feature film "Frozen", the Sochi Olympic Games, and Ukraine also made it to the 11 most popular searches.

    • Indian Navy on standby for AirAsia flight searchThe Indian Navy has kept a surveillance aircraft and three ships ready as an AirAsia flight with 162 people on board Sunday went missing en route from Indonesia to Singapore.
      "The Indian Navy has kept one Boeing P8I on standby at INS Rajali (Tamil Nadu) and three ships ready for search and rescue operations for the Air Asia flight which has been reported missing since this morning (Sunday)," a navy official said.

    Current Affairs [November 2014]
    • India, Australia agree on new security cooperation framework
      India and Australia marked a new synergy in bilateral relations as they agreed on a framework for security cooperation to boost defence, civil nuclear and economic ties even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended a hectic five-day, four-city visit.
      The two countries signed five agreements, including one on exchange of sentenced prisoners, while Modi also addressed the Australian parliament, the first Indian prime minister to do so.

    • Under Satya Nadella Microsoft emerges as world's 2nd top firm
      Under the leadership of its new Indian-American CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has overtaken oil giant Exxon Mobil to become the world's second most valuable company after iPhone maker Apple Inc.
      Nadella restructured Microsoft that has been struggling with the declining market in personal computers to focus on cloud services and mobile technology while cutting jobs and company expenses, Tech Times reported.

    • India, Australia Agree On Early Closure Of Civil N-Agreement
      India and Australia agreed on seeking an early closure on the civil nuclear agreement and also to speed up negotiations on a bilateral trade agreement as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott on Nov 18, 2014 (Tuesday).
      Modi, addressing the media here after talks with Abbott, said he has asked for easier access for Indian business to the Australian market and quicker investment approvals.

    • Google signs 60-year lease with NASA
      In a bid to reduce costs and shed surplus property, the US space agency has signed a 60-year lease with Planetary Ventures LLC – a shell organisation operated by Google for real estate deals – to manage Moffett Federal Airfield (MFA) in California and restore its historic Hangar One.
      Google will initially invest more than $200 million into the site, NASA said in a statement.

    Current Affairs [October 2014]
    • Union Carbide ex-chief Warren Anderson is dead

      Warren Anderson, who headed Union Carbide when a gas leak in its Bhopal pesticide plant killed thousands, is dead, the New York Times reported.

      Anderson died Sep 29 at a nursing home in Vero Beach, Florida, aged 92, the Times said. His death, not announced by his family, was confirmed from public records.

      Anderson flew to Bhopal four days after the world's worst industrial disaster and was arrested. But after paying bail he left India and never returned to face trial.

    • Australia Govt lifted ban on facial coverings in Public areas

      A move to force Muslim women who cover their faces to sit in a separate enclosed public gallery at Australia's Parliament House has been reversed, media reported .

      Earlier this month, Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Senate President Stephen Parry approved new rules applying to anyone wearing "facial coverings", ABC News reported.

    • NASA Tool To Help Airlines Reduce Weather Delays

      NASA scientists have developed a tool that would help airlines minimise weather delays and save both flight time and fuel.

      Known as Dynamic Weather Routes (DWR), this computer software tool is programmed to constantly analyse air traffic throughout the National Airspace System along with the ever-shifting movements of weather severe enough to require an airliner to effect a course change.

      When the DWR tool finds an opportunity for an airliner to fly more efficiently to its destination, saving time and money, while also remaining at a safe distance from the storm, the computer rings an alert to the airline flight dispatcher.

    • Australian Richard Flanagan wins 2014 Man Booker prize

      The first Man Booker prize to allow American nominees was won by an Australian, with Richard Flanagan triumphing for a novel of love and war that tells the harrowing stories of prisoners and captors on the infamous Burma railway.

      Flanagan won for The Narrow Road to the Deep North, with philosopher AC Grayling, who chaired the judges, describing the book as "an absolutely superb novel, a really outstanding work of literature", the Guardian reported.

    • Jean Tirole awarded 2014 Nobel Prize for Economics

      French economist Jean Tirole has won the Nobel Prize in economics for his work on market power and regulation.

      Tirole, 61, wins a prize of 8m Swedish krona (£692,000). He is six years younger than the average age of Nobel economics laureates.

    • French Author Gets Nobel Prize For Literature

      This year's Nobel Prize for literature has been awarded to French author Patrick Modiano, it was announced on Oct 9,2014.

      He has been awarded the prize "For the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation".

    • Scientists behind 'inner GPS' awarded Nobel prize in medicine

      John O'Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser – have shared the 2014 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, the Nobel Committee announced on Oct -6 ,2014 ( Monday).

      The Nobel assembly at the Karolinska Institute has decided to award one half of the physiology or medicine prize to John O'Keefe and the other half jointly to May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser for their discovery of cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain, Xinhua reported.

    Current Affairs [September 2014]
    • NASA Selects Boeing, SpaceX To Ferry US Astronauts To ISS

      With a goal to end the US' sole reliance on the Russian Space Shuttle in 2017, NASA selected two American firms to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

      The space agency chose the US multinational Boeing Co and California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) for the multi-billion dollar contract to carry astronauts in space taxis to and from orbit using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively.

    • World's First Swimming Dinosaur Found In Morocco

      In a surprise find, palaeontologists have discovered the world's first known swimming dinosaur – a 15-metre-long behemoth with a crocodile-like face.The creature called Spinosaurus aegyptiacus had feet well suited to paddling and a sail-like structure rising from its spine.It also had unusually dense bones, possibly to help weigh it down as it hunted its underwater prey.

    • Modi Seeks Japan's Help In Skill Development

      Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday sought Japan's help for skill development in India. Stating that 65 percent of India's population was young, Modi said: "In 2020, when the world would need a workforce, we are preparing for it from now itself, so that we can match the global workforce."

      "India is a youthful nation. We want to give importance to skill development. Be it quality, zero defect, discipline, we give importance to it," Modi said while addressing business leaders here.

    • World's first lab grown stem cells implanted

      Japanese researchers have successfully implanted lab-grown retinal tissue from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) into a woman in her 70s – the world's first recipient of stem cells.

      In a two-hour procedure, a team of three eye specialists led by Yasuo Kurimoto of the Kobe City Medical Center General Hospital transplanted a 1.3 by 3.0 millimetre sheet of retinal pigment epithelium cells into an eye of the woman who was suffering from an age-related macular degeneration.

    Current Affairs [August 2014]
    • 111-Year-Old Japanese Officially Declared World's Oldest Man

      Sakari Momoi, a 111-year-old Japanese citizen, was Wednesday officially recognised in Tokyo as the oldest man in the world by the Guinness World Records award committee.

      Momoi bags the title after the death in early June of previous record holder, US citizen Alexander Imich, who was just one day older than the Japanese, the committee said in a statement.

    • Hiroshima commemorates 69th anniversary of atomic bombing

      Hiroshima, the Japanese city that suffered US atomic bombing in 1945 during the World War II, commemorated the 69th anniversary of the bombing Wednesday at the city's Peace Memorial Park.

    • NASA Creates Space Engine Like None Other

      In what could be a game changer in space exploration, NASA has successfully tested a "microwave thruster system" that requires no propellant to generate thrust.

      The engine appears to produce propulsion through electricity and nothing else.

    • First World War victims paid tribute across the globe

      The governor of Belgium's Liege province Monday to the victims of the First World War (WWI) as part of ceremonies to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war.

      Speaking at the Cointe Inter-Allied Memorial in Liege, Governor Michel Foret asked gathered dignitaries to remember all those who died during the conflict.

    • Japan Announces 3.5 Trillion Yen Investment To India

      Japan Monday announced public-private investment of 3.5 trillion yen (Rs.2.03 trillion) in India.

      India and Japan held official talks Monday in the third day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's five-day sojourn to Japan.

    Current Affairs [July 2014]
    • NASA celebrates 45 years of moon landing

      On July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon.

      Forty-five years later, NASA will celebrate Monday the giant leap by honouring Armstrong, who died in 2012, with a renaming ceremony of the historic "operations and checkout building" at Cape Canaveral in Florida, the launch site.

    • Japan ends 60-year military's ban on fighting abroad

      Japan took a historic step on July 01 2014 by ending a ban that has kept the military from fighting abroad since 1945. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe but a move that has riled China and worries many Japanese voters.

      The change, the most dramatic shift in policy since Japan set up its post-war armed forces 60 years ago, will widen Japan's military options by ending the ban on exercising "collective self-defence," or aiding a friendly country under attack.

    • US names Antarctica mountain Mt.Sinha after an Indian-American scientist

      To Honour an Indian-American scientist Akhouri Sinha, The United States named a mountain in Antarctica as Mt. Sinha. The mountain was named as the recognition of Sinha's work done as an explorer in 1971-72.

      Sinha's pioneering biological research expedition has provided critical data about the animal populations in Antarctica.

    Current Affairs [June 2014]
    • Earth's largest water reservoir located inside Earth's mantle

      Earth's largest water reservoir might be located deep inside the Earth's mantle. This was revealed by a study published in the journal Science on 13 June 2014.

      The study was conducted by the Northwestern geophysicist Steve Jacobsen and University of New Mexico seismologist Brandon Schmandt.

    • Cabinet Clears China MoU For Industrial Parks

      The Indian government has given in principle approval to an MoU to allow China to set up industrial parks the country. The move comes ahead of the five-day visit of Vice-President Hamid Ansari to China from Thursday.

      China, which has established five industrial parks in ASEAN countries like Cambodia, Indonesia and Vietnam, is keen to set up similar industrial parks in India. The states being examined for the purpose include Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.

    • NASA built World's most powerful telescope to track alien's life

      National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) plan to build Advanced Technology Large Aperture Space Telescope (ATLAST) in Portsmouth. It will be the World's most powerful and largest telescope once it is built.

    Current Affairs [May 2014]
    • Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Plaza coming up in Texas

      A seven-foot tall bronze statue of India's freedom movement leader will be the centrepiece of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial of North Texas with walls inscribed with some of his quotes.

      After four years of planning and fundraising, ground was broken at Thomas Jefferson Park in Irving for the memorial last Saturday, according to dallasnews.com.

    • Royal Navy Submarine Service appointed first female submariners

      Royal Navy Submarine Service of United Kingdom appointed female submariners for the first.

      Pioneering lieutenants Maxine Stiles, Alex Olsson and Penny Thackray on 5 May 2014 have become the first women to serve in the Royal Navy Submarine Service. This step was taken for the first time in the 110-year history of the Submarine Service.

    Current Affairs [April 2014]
    • Government to Issue E-Visa to tourists from 180 Countries

      The government will soon operationalise electronic travel authorization or e-Visa facility to inbound tourists from 180 countries.

      According to Tourism Secreatry Parvez Dewan, the government will operationalise the electronic travel authorization within a year.

      Dewan was speaking at the inauguration of the first edition of Incredible India Travel Bazaar (IITB), organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in partnership of with the tourism ministry.

    Current Affairs [March 2014]
    • One Million Kids Suffer From TB Annually: Study

      As the world observes World TB Day Monday, a shocking research reveals that despite improved medication and government as well as aid agencies' efforts, the number of children suffering from tuberculosis (TB) annually has doubled since 2011.

      Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) in Boston have estimated that around one million children suffer from TB annually- twice the number previously thought to have tuberculosis and three times the number that are diagnosed every year, the researchers claimed.

    • India, Singapore win 2014 UN Water for Life award

      India and Singapore have won the 2014 edition of the UN-Water's Water for Life Best Practices Award for their sustainable practices of water resources.

      This was announced Friday during an official UN ceremony here to mark World Water Day 2014 that falls March 22.

    • India seeks level playing field for all in Global Internet

      Close on the heels of the US decision to relinquish its oversight of Internet Corporation for Assignment of Names and Numbers (ICANN), a global multi-stakeholder meeting – NETmundial – on the future of internet governance will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, April 23-24. Nearly 800 delegates representing government, private sector, civil society, academia and technical communities, including several from India, are expected to attend this meeting.